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| ||DINOSAUR TEETH ||
Looking at an animal's teeth can give you a lot of information on how it lived. Dinosaur teeth can tell you a lot about the animal, including the type of food that it ate, how it obtained that food, and how much further digestion was required (did it chew its food, crush it, or just wolf it down?).
Teeth are harder than bone and therefore fossilize more readily than bones. Many fossilized dinosaur teeth have been found. Some species of dinosaurs (like Cardiodon, Deinodon, and Trachodon) are known only from fossilized teeth.
The number of teeth that dinosaurs had varied widely. Some, like Gallimimus and Ornithomimus, had no teeth. T. rex had 50 to 60 thick, conical teeth. The dinosaurs with the most teeth were the hadrosaurs (the duck-billed dinosaurs), which had up to 960 cheek teeth.
Dinosaurs had replaceable teeth; when a tooth was lost or broken, another one grew in to take its place.
Sauropods: The plant-eating sauropods (like Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, Supersaurus, etc.) had peg-like or spoon-shaped teeth for stripping foliage but not for chewing. The tough plant material was digested in their huge guts, possibly in fermentation chambers, and frequently with the aid of gastroliths (gizzard stones, which were stones that the animal swallowed) that helped to grind up the leaves and twigs.
Theropods (like T. rex, Giganotosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, Allosaurus, Spinosaurus, etc.) were meat-eaters that had sharp, pointed teeth for tearing flesh and/or crushing bones. A recent discovery of a Tyrannosaurus rex coprolite (fossilized feces) containing crushed bone indicates that T. rex did indeed crush its food with its strong teeth and powerful jaws.
The herbivorous (plant-eating) Ornithischians and some prosauropods had varied teeth, but mostly had horny beaks and many blunt, leaf-like cheek teeth for nipping and sometimes chewing tough vegetation.
Stegosaurids (like Stegosaurus and Kentrosaurus) had leaf-shaped teeth.
Hadrosaurs (the duck-billed dinosaurs which included Maiasaura, Parasaurolophus, Edmontosaurus, Lambeosaurus, etc.) had about 960 self-sharpening cheek teeth. They had more teeth than any other dinosaurs.
Iguanodontids: (like Iguanodon, Ouranosaurus, and Probactrosaurus) had teeth similar to those of modern-day iguanas. The rounded, notched crown of the teeth were curved.
Heterodontosaurus was a small Ornithischian dinosaur that had three different kinds of teeth (hence its name) and a beak. The sharp, cutting front, upper teeth were used for biting against the horny beak, the cheek teeth were for grinding food, and it also had two pairs of long, canine-like teeth that fit into sockets.
Ceratopsians , like Triceratops, Styracosaurus, Monoclonius, and others, had toothless beaks that were used to gather their food and many flat cheek teeth which were used to chew tough, fibrous plant material.
Most dinosaurs, like the Ankylosaurs (which included Ankylosaurus, Sauropelta, Euoplocephalus, etc.), could not chew their food and might have had large fermentation chambers in which the tough plant fibers were digested. Ankylosaurs had teeth that were shaped like a hand with the fingers together.
Ornithomimids (like Ornithomimus, Ansermimus, Gallimimus, and Struthiomimus) had no teeth, only beaks, with which they ate plants, insects, and small animals.
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