You woke up one day and decided to jump to Google and search “What dinosaur has 500 teeth?” and turns out it has way more exciting content to read than you expected. A Nigersaurus has 500 teeth and is absolutely one of a kind of a dinosaur.
From its history to how it got its name, every single thing about it is quirky and amusing. Read more to find out about its quirks.
What Family Does A Nigersaurus Belong To?
Nigersaurus was a sauropod. It belonged to the family Rebbachisauridae, which belonged to the Sauropodomorpha suborder.
It was previously believed that Nigersaurus belonged to the Dicraeosauridae family because, during the time it was discovered, it had structures that were believed to be similar to the members of that particular group. However, after newly discovered evidence from paleontologist Paul Sereno, it has been determined that Nigersaurus belongs to the Rebbachisauridae family.
How Did The “Mesozoic Cow” Get Its Name?
The story behind how the “Mesozoic Cow” got its name is unique. Nigersaurus. “Niger” originates from the nation it was discovered from and “Saurus” originates from the Greek word “Sauros” which means lizard. So, Nigersaurus means Nigers lizard.
It is also often funnily called Mesozoic Cow because many paleontologists believe its behavior was similar to that of a modern cow. American paleontologist Paul Sereno is a firm believer that Nigersaurus was the most out-of-the-ordinary dinosaur he has ever seen. Primarily because of how it was shaped and how they have understood its behavior.
What Did The Dinosaur With 500 Teeth Eat?
Nigersaurus was a plant-eating dinosaur. It mostly ate ferns, horsetails, and angiosperms.
Nigersaurus had a shovel-shaped mouth, which meant that it was completely equipped to eat large amounts of vegetation as it walked along. It is often said that an entire football field’s worth of vegetation was a Nigersaurus’s meal every single day.
Nigersaurus had a unique way of eating. Because it has 500 teeth, many believed that its teeth arrangement served a comb-like process. Many paleontologists believed that its teeth arrangement and comb-like process allowed it to filter food and stop it from eating mud and dirt.
However, some scientists contradict that statement. They believed that it simply cut the vegetation with its teeth and then swallowed it in a vacuum-like motion because of the fragility of its jawbones.
What Did Nigersaurus Look Like?
A Nigersaurus is a sauropod. A sauropod is a member of the dinosaur group Sauropoda and its appearance is marked by large size, a four-legged stance, a long neck and tail, and a herbivorous diet.
Although Nigersaurus was a sauropod, it was one of the smallest sauropods because of its short neck compared to other sauropods. A typical Nigersaurus used to be around 30 feet, along with its tail.
An average Nigersaurus weighed around 4 tons, which is a whopping 8000 pounds. It had hind legs that were well-built and thick.
It is a known fact to everyone that Nigersaurus’s teeth are its unique feature. But do you know what makes it even more unique? Its 500 thin teeth would be replaced every two weeks and its upper jaw teeth were much larger than its lower jaw teeth. Its muzzle was wide and long which allowed it to eat small terrestrial vegetation.
Although a Nigersaurus’s teeth are distinctive features, its skull has been an interest of study among scientists for many years. It had a delicate skull. Its skull was made of thin bones. It had many openings and pores, which scientists believed gave them flexibility in feeding on the ground.
For years, researchers studied the skull of a Nigersaurus to be able to recreate the different positions of the body. Scientists find it quirky that it had little bone material in the vertebral column.
Did you know a Nigersaurus is the only tetrapod with jaws that are wider than the rest of its skull? In fact, it earned the name “Mesozoic Cow” because of its quirky skull shape and eating habits.
When Did Nigersaurus Live?
Nigersaurus lived 115 to 105 million years ago during the middle Cretaceous period. They lived in Niger, Africa.
Their fossils have been found in the Sahara Desert. But when the Nigersaurus were alive, there was no desert. Instead, it was a wide area of floodplain that had lush greenery and vegetation, there were ample rivers and cedar forests.
Where Was Nigersaurus Discovered?
In a baffling but animated expedition in 1965-1972, French paleontologist Phillipe Tauqet discovered the first bones of Nigersaurus. However, paleontologists weren’t able to identify what they had found.
It wasn’t until that Paul Sereno, an American paleontologist, led many expeditions to Niger in the years 1997 and 2000. He discovered many fossils from the Elrhaz formations in Niger. Its bones were discovered in the Elrhaz Formation in Gadoufaoua, Republic of Niger.
Through many findings and the gathering of many bony parts of Nigersaurus, a rough skeleton was assembled. Finally, in 2005, Paul Sereno provided a detailed paper on the appearance of Nigersaurus. But it wasn’t until 2007 that a proper detailed paper on the whole skeleton of Nigersaurus was provided.
Was Nigersaurus A Herbivore?
After much research, it has been found that skeletal and dental evidence suggests that a Nigersaurus was a ground-level herbivore. In fact, if told specifically, a Nigersaurus is a megaherbivore.
Their diet mostly consisted of ferns, horsetails, and flowering plants. In the Early Cretaceous period, grass had not evolved yet. It was during the Late Cretaceous period when glass had finally evolved.
But Nigersaurus lived during the Early Cretaceous period so they lived off soft plants.
What Hunted Nigersaurus?
Did you know that when the Nigersaurus lived it lived with many deadly predators? Predators such as spinosaurids, carcharodontosaurids, and abelisaurs lived during that era.
From baby Nigersaursuses to adult Nigersauruses, everyone was scared of them.
If land held such deadly predators, then so did the lakes and waters. Sarcosuchus, commonly known as “flesh crocodiles”, ruled the waters.
It was approximately 40 meters long and weighed around 8 tonnes. It was so huge that it could easily ambush a baby Nigersaurus and not heave a heavy sigh. An adult Nigersaurus? Please, that will be a piece of cake for it.
A Nigersaurus may be known to everyone for having 500 teeth, but it has some absolutely amazing features that can knock aspiring paleontologists off their feet.
For instance, its distinctive skull shape is an interesting topic among researchers. Some even love to research their eating habits.
Everything about a Nigersaurus is an interesting topic of study. They are not always known as the “dinosaur that has 500 teeth”.