Paleontologists can tell a lot from the size of a dinosaur’s skull and from the teeth in it. The teeth provide the best clues as to what dinosaurs ate, how dinosaurs got their food and how they digested their food. For example, some dinosaurs had long, rake-like teeth. They used their teeth to strip leaves off branches. Other dinosaurs had sharp, knife-like teeth and used them to rip meat off its prey and swallow it whole. There were even some dinosaurs that had whole rows of grinding teeth to mash up plants.
Here are 5 fun facts about dinosaur teeth:
- Tyrannosaurus Rex had a mouth full of serrated teeth, but not all of the dinosaur’s teeth served the same function, according to a 2012 study in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. T-rex’s front teeth gripped and pulled; its side teeth tore flesh and its back teeth diced chunks of meat and forced food into the throat. (More info: www.livescience.com/23868-tyrannosaurus-rex-facts.html)
- Triceratops teeth were made of five layers of tissue. In contrast, the teeth of plant-eating horse and bison have four layers of tissue. Crocodiles and other reptiles have just two. (More info: www.sci-news.com/paleontology/science-triceratops-teeth-02885.html)
- All dinosaurs could regrow teeth. Scientists believe plant-eating dinosaurs grew new teeth more frequently to keep their chompers from getting too worn down on all that vegetation. Diplodocus replaced their teeth fairly frequently — growing one new tooth every 35 days — while the Camarasaurus took nearly 62 days to form a new tooth. (More info: www.livescience.com/38249-dinosaurs-teeth-replacement.html)
- Hadrosaurs had more teeth than any other dinosaur. These duck-billed dinosaurs had nearly 1,000 cheek teeth called grinders, which they used to eat plants. (More info: http://dinosaurs.about.com/od/typesofdinosaurs/a/hadrosaurs.htm)
- Apatosaurus had teeth but couldn’t chew. According to the American Museum of Natural History, the Apatosaurus had “stripper teeth” that removed leaves from branches. Then, this plant-eater, believed to have weighed 19.8 tons, just swallowed plants whole. (More info: www.livescience.com/25093-apatosaurus.html)
Still can’t get enough dino dental knowledge? Then check out this awesome video from Smithsonian’s Nationam Museum of History: