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The dinosaur named Nigersaurus is distinguished by its more than 500 teeth! It is relatively small for a Sauropod. To now more, let's find out about this early Cretaceous dinosaur from Africa.
Compared in size to a modern African elephant, the 500-teeth dinosaur was medium-sized. It is herbivorous and has four-legged. Its body was 9 meters long and its femur measured 1 meter. Paleontologists estimate that it weights about 4 tons as an adult.
The 500 teeth dinosaur is characterized by a small head, a relatively short neck, wide hind legs and a long tail. Its skull was designed for easy feeding and its bones were thin.
The 500 teeth dinosaur has a wide mouth, shaped like a "suction slit". It contained more than 500 teeth, which were replaced about every 14 days. The skin of this dinosaur was brown and its belly was lighter in color.
Nigersaurus means "Niger lizard". It lived at the beginning of the Cretaceous on the plains of the Niger, alongside the Ornithopod Ouranosaurus, the Spinosaurid Suchomimus and the massive crocodile Sarcosuchus. Bones have also been found in Algeria and Tunisia.
This dinosaur was discovered in Niger in 1976 in the Elrhaz Formation, but had not been described. A new discovery was made in 1999. A remain knowledge of the Nigersaurus was published. The first remains were discovered by the famous French paleontologist Philippe Taquet. Nigersaurus Taqueti is the only species of the genus, named after the scientist. This enthusiast paleontologist became later the director of the National Museum of Natural History.
Behavior of the 500-teeth Dinosaur
The Nigersaurus was a social Sauropod that could live with a variety of other dinosaurs. These included other large herbivorous dinosaurs, large Theropods (carnivorous dinosaurs) and Crocodylomorphs. Given its size, it is not excluded that it has had predators.
Feeding the Nigersaurus
The 500-teeth dinosaur was herbivorous and fed on multiple plants. This dinosaur chewed its food with hundreds of small pointed teeth located in the front of its jaws.
This would have allowed the 500-tooth dinosaur to feed on slow-growing plants and easily crush them. It is earning the nickname "Mesozoic lawnmower".
The structure of the inner ear of the Nigersaurus indicates that its head was usually worn close to the ground. These characteristics could be an adaptation to the soft plants that grew in the early Cretaceous. It happened when the continents continued to break up and the climate became wetter, compared to the drier conditions of the Late Jurassic. Its diet consisted mainly of ferns and horsetails.
Previously, such teeth batteries were only known in Hadrosaurs and Ceratopsians. The discovery of Nigersaurus showed that at least one line of Sauropods, the Rebbachisaurids, also possessed them.
Classification of the 500 teeth Dinosaur
Nigersaurus is a member of the family Rebbachisauridae, an evolutionary offshoot of Diplodocimorpha.
The knowledge of this dinosaur was poorly developed after its discovery in 1976. Although it was a common genus. It progressed significantly following the discovery of new remains in 1997 and 2000 by Paul Sereno. This American paleontologist is famous for his discovery of "SuperCroc", an almost complete fossil of Sarcosuchus.
The reason for this delay in understanding this genus with 500-teeth was due to the state of its remains. The structure of this dinosaur consists of many voids is extremely fragile. With the help of a powerful light beam, it is even possible to see light through a fossil skull. This fragility made the work of paleontologists more complex, as they had not been able to find either articulated skeletons or skulls intact. In the Rebbachisauridae family, these specimens were the most known complete.
Paleontologist Sereno's team described in detail and named the Nigersaurus in 1999. The reference specimen (holotype) consisted of the neck and part of the skull. The same specimen was also used as a reference for the material from which the limbs were made and a scapula was found nearby.
In 2005, paleontologist J A. Wilson and Sereno published a detailed description of the skull for the first time. They also addressed the issue of dietary adaptation. Then, in 2007, Sereno and his team updated the description of the skeleton with new details, based on a specimen known since 1997.
After, they presented in Washington a resin model of the neck and head. A reconstructed skeletal support, and the discovered fossils. This presentation to the National Geographic Society earned the Nigersaurus a unique nickname in the press: "cow of the Mesozoic". The American paleontologist said that he had never encountered such a surprising dinosaur with unusual characteristics. Sereno also made an analogy between the dinosaur's aligned teeth and a conveyor belt. He compared the dinosaur's head to a vacuum cleaner.
Other teeth similar to those of the "Niger lizard" have been discovered in Brazil, but paleontologists do not yet know whether they correspond to Titanosaurs (of which remains have been discovered) or to relatives of the Nigersaurus. The Nigersaurus also had a lower jaw similar to the Titanosaurus Antarctosaurus. It is possible that these reptiles may have followed a convergent evolutionary path along the century.
The Nigersaurus Taqueti, a cousin of the Diplodocus that lived in Africa 110 million years ago has been in the spotlight since November 15 at the National Geographic Museum. Its 80%-complete skeleton provided a lot of information thanks to a CT-scanner (or CT-scanner, the classic medical scanner that produces such beautiful images of the human body as if it were cut into slices).
Discovery of a new dinosaur with shark teeth
Dated at more than 113 million years ago, the paleontologists asserted that the fossils belonged to the one of the most important Thai dinosaurs ever discovered.
It is the Siamraptor suwati. Discovered in Thailand, it has sliced flesh with razor-sharp teeth rather than crushing the bones of its prey. Tyrannosaurs were seen as the kings of the prehistoric world. They're among the largest and most charismatic of giant predators to stalk the Earth during the age of dinosaurs.
In addition to the Thai dinosaur, the Carcharodontosaurus was also a genus of carnivorous dinosaurs. It existed during the Cenomanian stage of the mid-Cretaceous period in Northern Africa. This dinosaur is currently known to include two species: C. saharicus and C. iguidensis, which were among the larger Theropoda, nearly as large as or even larger than Tyrannosaurus, Giganotosaurus, and Spinosaurus.
The genus Carcharodontosaurus was named after the shark genus Carcharodon. Itself composed of the Greek Greek karchar[os] (κάρχαρος, meaning "jagged" or "sharp") and odōn (ὀδών, "teeth"), and the suffix -saurus ("lizard").
Nigersaurus did not exhibit the same modifications seen in the jaws of other dinosaurs with dental batteries, or mammals with elaborated chewing functions. The lower jaw was S-shaped and divided into the subcylindrical transverse ramus, which contained the teeth, and the back ramus. It was more lightweight and the location was at the foremost of the muscle attachments. The tooth row were distanced and expanded to the sides from the plane of the main ramus of the lower jaw. The jaws also contained several fenestrae, including three that were not presented in other Sauropods. The front ends of the jaws had grooves that indicated the presence of a keratinous (horny) sheath. Nigersaurus was the only known tetrapod animal to have jaws wider than the skull and teeth that extended laterally across the front. The snout was even broader than those of the "duck-billed" Hadrosaurs.
The Cretaceous is a geological period that lasted from about 145 to 66 million years age (mya). It is the third and final period of the Mesozoic Era, as well as the longest. At nearly 80 million years, it is the longest geological period of the entire Phanerowoic.
The name is derived from the Latin creta, chalk, which is abundant in the latter half of the period. It is usually abbreviated K, for its German translation Kreide. The Cretaceous was a period with a relatively warm climate, resulting in high eustatic sea levels that created numerous shallow inland seas.
Oceans and seas were populated with now-extinct marine reptiles, ammonites and rudists, while dinosaurs continued to dominate on land. The world was ice free, and forests extended to the poles. During this time, new groups of mammals and birds appeared. During the Early Cretaceous, flowering plants appeared and began to rapidly diversify, becoming the dominant group of plants across the Earth by the end of the Cretaceous, co-incident with the decline and extinction of previously widespread gymnosperm groups.
The Cretaceous (along with the Mesozoic) ended with the Cretaceous extinction event, a large mass extinction in which many groups, including non-avian dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and large marine reptiles died out.
The end of the Cretaceous was defined by the abrupt Cretacious-Paleogene boundary (K–Pg boundary), a geologic signature associated with the mass extinction which lies between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras.
The Jurassic is a geologic period and system. It spanned 56 million years ago from the end of the Triassic Period, 201.3 million years ago (Mya) to the beginning of the Cretaceous Period 145 Mya.
The Jurassic constitutes the middle period of the Mesozoic Era. The Jurassic is named after the Jura Mountains in the European Alps, where limestone strata from the period were first identified.
The start of the period was marked by the major Triassic-Jurrasic extinction event. Two other extinction events occurred during the period: the Pliensbachian-Toarcian extinction in the Early Jurassic, and the end Jurassic transition, which is disputed in its impact.
This period is divided into three epochs: Early, Middle and Late. Similarly, in stratigraphy, the Jurassic is divided into the Lower Jurassic, Middle Jurassic, and Upper Jurassic series of rock formations.
By the beginning of the Jurassic, the supercontinent Pangaea had begun rifting into two landmass: Laurasia to the north, and Gondwana to the south. This created more coastlines and shifted the continental climate from dry to humid, and many of the arid deserts of the Triassic were replaced by lush rainforests.
On land, the fauna transitioned from the Triassic fauna, dominated by both dinosauromorph and pseudosuchian archosaurs, to one dominated by dinosaurs alone. The first birds also appeared during the Jurassic, having evolved from a branch of theropod dinosaurs. Other major events include the appearance of the earliest lizards, and the evolution of therian mammals.
Crocodilians made the transition from a terrestrial to an aquatic mode of life. The oceans were populated by marine reptiles such as ichthyosaurs and plesioraurs, while pterosaurs were the dominant flying vertebrates.
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