After a joke from Reddit with the title “don’t google the internet with what dinosaur has 500 teeth” broke the internet, the Nigersaurus quickly became a popular topic of discussion on the internet in the form of viral memes. In addition, a simple Google auto-suggestion may often evoke unusual incidents and pique people’s interest in a specific problem or subject among the general population.
The circumstances surrounding the Nigersaurus were precisely the same. This predatory dinosaur in the Republic of Niger, a tiny nation in West Africa, 115 million years ago, was nothing like the meme! So what did this one-of-a-kind dinosaur look like when it was at the height of its power? And what led to its first discovery? The infamous “dinosaur with 500 teeth” is the topic of this short conversation we will now provide to you.
Discovery Of Nigersaurus
1976, Phillippe Taquet made the first reference to Nigersaurus in a scholarly publication. During an expedition in the Republic of Niger between 1965 and 1972, this French palaeontologist first discovered the remains. However, the fact that there was just part of the skeleton meant that the find was often overlooked.
An American palaeontologist named Paul Sereno from Chicago University led a trip in the year 1999 to the Elrahz Formation in the Gadoyfaoua region of the Republic of Niger. He discovered the whole skeleton of this meat-eating dinosaur during his excavation. In 2007, Sereno and his colleague Jeffrey A.
Wilson presented an updated description of the Nigersaurus skull and its eating behaviours. In addition, he gave the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC, a full-scale replica made of plastic of the dinosaur’s head.
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The Nigersaurus had more than 500 teeth, one of its defining traits. It is believed that this peculiar herbivore formerly foraged for food in a region now dominated by the Sahara desert. It used its enormous, broad mouth to collect food; in fact, the width of its snout was more than the width of the rear of its head.
Paul Sereno, a palaeontologist, was also famously described as making the comparison that the face of the Nigersaurus resembled that of a vacuum cleaner. The analogy Sereno made between himself and a vacuum cleaner has been deemed an accurate observation, with rebuilt bones demonstrating that the mouth of Sereno’s creature had a striking likeness to the tip of the domestic device.
The broad snout served as a specialised instrument for eating. It was equipped with four enormous side fenestrae, which are apertures in the skull. The jaw, teeth, and overall form of the mouth of the Nigersaurus were unconventional.
In terms of the anatomy of its jaws, it is the only known tetrapod animal to have possessed jaws that were broader than its head. This fact distinguishes it from all other known tetrapod animals. In addition, it is the only known example of a tetrapod with teeth that extended laterally across the front of its mouth.
This unconventional beast had a tooth structure significantly different from anything else seen in sauropod dinosaurs. In addition, it was discovered that the Nigersaurus has dental batteries, which has never been observed previously in a sauropod family. This is another one of its distinctive characteristics.
Dental batteries have been shown to be widespread in beaked herbivores like the triceratops. Still, they have remained very uncommon among sauropods. Nevertheless, herbivores benefited significantly from dental batteries since they were among the most effective processing equipment.
It was stated that they consisted of columns of replaceable teeth piled vertically atop one another. If one of the teeth in any given column were damaged or lost, the next tooth in the queue would step in and take its place. In addition, the teeth columns would be arranged in an orderly fashion adjacent to one another, much like beans in a pod.
Therefore, dinosaurs who had dental batteries might very well have had hundreds of teeth, both old and new, in their mouths at the same time. In the case of the Nigersaurus, the upper jaw was packed with around 60 columns of very minute teeth that resembled needles. At the same time, the lower jaw had around 68 columns in total.
When the whole row of columns is considered, the Nigersaurus had more than 500 individual teeth, which translates to 9 sets of replacement teeth that are always ready to be used inside the jaw. Another aspect that contributes to the uniqueness of the Nigersaurus’ teeth is their orientation.
When chewing on the leaves hanging between the trees, having teeth that extended laterally at the front of its mouth would not have been a very advantageous trait to possess. As a result, the data suggests that the Nigersaurus fed and grazed at ground level. Because of this, it got the moniker “Mesozoic cow.” The broad muzzle would prove to be an ideal companion for eating amid the low-lying plants, which is exactly what it was designed for.
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What Did Nigersaurus Eat?
Initially, scientists believed that Nigersaurus was a herbivore. However, this particular sauropod is likely to be a herbivore much like the others in its genus. It contains a few tiny tooth scratches in parallel, as well as pits. This often occurs in herbivores, animals that get their nutrition from lower-level plants such as ferns, weeds, and the like.
During this period, the grass did not develop in any way. As a result, this dinosaur with 500 teeth was able to subsist on horsetails, angiosperms, ferns, and other similar plants. However, because of their necks’ stiffness and height, they did not consume cycads, aquatic plants, or conifers. One may draw parallels between them and the flamingos of today.
It’s possible that the Nigersaurus used its teeth like a comb to separate aquatic ferns and other plants from the food it consumed, similar to how these pink birds do it. However, according to Sereno, Nigersaurus may have also eaten on short conifers and several other plants that grew close to the ground.
Its teeth were arranged in a lateral position, making it challenging to eat plant matter effectively. This, in turn, led their teeth to deteriorate at an accelerated rate. As a result, they required this enormous quantity of 500 teeth to guarantee that the damaged teeth would be replaced with new and functional ones. As a result, their rates of tooth replacement are far greater than those of any other herbivorous dinosaurs.
Where Did It Live?
Elhaz Formation of the Tenma group in Gadoufaoua, situated in the Republic of Niger, is where Nigersaurus was able to make its home. Fluvial sandstones with low reliefs and occasional dunes with coarse to medium grains may be found in this part of the world. However, at the time of the Microscopic Cretaceous, this location was a floodplain. The wetlands provided it with enough amount of food to support it in the form of ground-level plants.