Flesh-Ripping Dinosaurs Replaced Their Teeth Multiple Times a Year
by Riley Black/Smithsonian.com
For carnivorous dinosaurs, staying sharp was of the utmost importance. Whether they were slicing flesh from the flanks of their prey or crushing the bones of their victims into splinters, the business of eating other animals can be tough on the teeth.
Like all toothy dinosaurs, prehistoric carnivores replaced their teeth throughout their lives. New cutlery constantly grew in their jaws to push old or broken teeth out of the way. And a new study published today in PLOS ONE reveals how often three Mesozoic meat eaters replaced their chompers. The evidence that these carnivores grew new teeth several times a year also can tell us new things about how these animals hunted and fed.
The research, published by Adelphi University paleontologist Michael D’Emic and colleagues, continues previous work that examined the teeth of herbivorous dinosaurs. In 2013 D’Emic and coauthors calculated that the long-necked Jurassic herbivores Camarasaurus and Diplodocus replaced one tooth every 62 days and 35 days, respectively. Plant food can be abrasive, wearing down teeth quickly, and so herbivorous dinosaurs required a constantly renewed supply. But what about the carnivores?