Last Updated on January 16, 2024 by Umer Malik
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A dinosaur with 500 teeth
The Nigersaurus lived 110 million years ago in the Sahara Desert of present-day Niger and measured 30 feet long. In addition to the killer dinosaur Suchomimus, the plant-eating dinosaur’s tyrannosaurus and lurdusaurus, and the gigantic crocodile, Nigersaurus lived in a lush environment.
The skull of the Nigersaurus was delicately shaped, and the teeth of the mouth were specially designed for its habits of grazing on ground-level plants. An unusual feature of this long-necked dinosaur is its blunt, straight-edged muzzle, which boasts more than 500 teeth. In 1995, CT scans of the first dinosaur skull were used to reconstruct the fossil skull of Nigersaurus digitally.
The Interesting factor about Nigersaurus
It is a genus of rebbachisaur dinosaurs that lived between 115 million and 105 million years ago. Niger’s Gadoufaoua Formation, nestled within the Elrhaz Formation, was where the discovery was made. Despite being known as early as 1976, Nigersaurus taqueria was renamed in 1999 after being found with a more significant number of intact remains. The genus name “Niger reptile” is derived from Philippe Taquet, who discovered the first fossil remains.
It was small for a sauropod, measuring approximately 9 meters (30 feet). It was about 4 tons (4.4 short tons), roughly equal to the weight of a modern elephant. Large, thin bones and large fenestrae characterized its skull, which was highly specialized for feeding. Over 500 teeth filled its broad muzzle, which was replaced rapidly: around every 14 days. The jaws may have been covered in keratinous sheaths. Teeth in its jaws were positioned far to the front, unlike those of other tetrapods, whose tooth-bearing bones were rotated transversely in relation to the rest of the skull, despite its high pneumatization, a solid and robust body (filled with air sacs linked with air spaces).
The eponymous Nigersaurus and its closest relatives are members of the Subfamily Rebbachisaurinae, part of the Surtiasaurid super family Diplodocoidea. Probably a browser, Nigersaurus fed by keeping its head close to the ground. Despite its larger brain size, the region of its brain that detected smell was underdeveloped. Sauropods are also known to hold their heads horizontally, not downwards, like animals living at the same time as it. Her diet probably included ferns, horsetails, and angiosperms, since it lived in riparian habitat. In addition to other dinosaurian megaherbivores and large theropods and crocodiles, it is one of the most commonly found fossil vertebrates in the area.
The discovery of Nigersaurus(dinosaur with 500 teeth)
In 1999, Sereno and colleagues based their description of Nigersaurus on newly found fossils. A reference to the genus name Nigersaurus (“Niger reptile”) and the specific name Taqueti was to acknowledge the fact that Taquet was the first paleontologist to make large-scale expeditions in Niger. An incomplete skull and neck make up the holotype specimen. Other material found around the sample includes a scapula. Fossils from these areas are displayed at the National Museum of Niger.
Detailed descriptions of skull and feeding adaptations were published in 2005 by Sereno and the American paleontologist Jeffrey A. Wilson. In 2007, Sereno and colleagues described the skeleton based on a specimen that was ten years old. In Washington, DC, the National Geographic Society presented fossils, a skeletal mount, and plastic models of the head and neck. As the press dubbed Nigeriasaurus a “Mesozoic cow,” Sereno noted that it was an extremely unusual dinosaur. The tooth shear reminded him of Darth Vader and a vacuum cleaner and the toothed belt of a conveyor belt and a sharpened piano key.
French and American expeditions collected numerous Nigersaurus specimens that remain unidentified. In Brazil and the Isle of Wight, teeth similar to those of Nigersaurus have been found, but their origin and connections to titanosaurs have been ruled out. Antarctosaurus has a similar lower jaw to the Nigersaurus, suggesting convergence of these two species.
Anatomy of the skull of Nigersaurus(dinosaur with 500 teeth)
Large side fenestrae distinguishes Nigersaurus’ skull from other sauropodomorphs. The muzzle and the back of the head were connected by only 1.0 cm2 of bone. Usually, these bone connecting pieces were no thicker than 0.8 millimetres (2 mm). However, the teeth sustained shearing did not damage the skull. One of its other unique characteristics among sauropodomorphs was the closed supratemporal fenestra. Bony nostrils were elongated at the nasal openings. It appears that the bony nostril of this diplodocid was closer to the snout than the bony nostril of other diplodocoids.
Consequently, the snout tip did not protrude relative to the rest of the tooth series, and the tooth row was not prognathous. The small frontal bone (which covered most of the skull’s roof) of this dinosaur was elongated (relatively narrow than long) and had a moderate cerebral fossa (a depression). An entire row of maxillary teeth was rotated transversely, with the rear-facing backward. In the lower dentary, there was an identical rotation. The teeth of only one dinosaur species had this transverse orientation. As a result of this arrangement, the tetrapod Nigeriasaurus had the most prolonged front teeth.
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It had slightly curved tooth crowns with an oval cross-section. On their sides and midline, the crowns had prominent ridges. A few samples suggest the lower jaw teeth were smaller and fewer in number than the upper ones, but they were of uncertain maturity. Other than that, all of the teeth looked the same. Nine replacement teeth encircled each active tooth within the jaw. The upper jaw contained 168 columns, whereas the lower jaw held 60 columns. Not each column erupted simultaneously, but all of the dental batteries did. There was a great deal of asymmetry among the enamel on Nigersaurus’ teeth; the outward-facing side had ten times more enamel than the inner side. It is otherwise only known to advanced ornithischians.
Nigersaurus, in comparison with other dinosaurs
The jaws of the Nigersaurus do not exhibit modifications, unlike those of other dinosaurs or mammals. Lower jaws had an S-shaped structure with a transverse ramus that contained teeth and a more lightweight ramus that was the site of most muscle attachments. An important characteristic was the expansion of the tooth row to the sides in relation to the plane of the lower jaw’s main ramus. Other sauropod jaws did not have three fenestrae. A keratinous (horny) sheath may have existed at the ends of the jaws due to grooves in the outer surface. It is the only tetrapod known to have had teeth extending laterally across the front of its jaws. Hadrosaurs with duckbills had a much broader snout.
Is Nigersaurus Still Alive?
The Cretaceous epoch, which spanned from 145 to 66 million years ago, is when Nigersaurus lived, approximately 100 million years ago. There are only one species of Nigersaurus, “Nigersaurus Taqueti,” in the genus.
Nigersaurus: Is It A Real Dinosaur?
Gadoufaua is located in the Elrhaz Formation of Niger. 115-105 million years ago, Nigersaurus was a rebbachisaurid sauropod dinosaur. The 30-foot herbivore would have inhabited the lush marshes in the area that is today the Sahara Desert.