Eating with dinosaurs: what do we know about prehistoric pearly whites?

October 1st, 2015

By Battle Road Dental

Ever wondered what dinosaurs used to eat? Or how many teeth they had? Examining dinosaurs’ fossilised fangs can tell us a lot about the feeding habits of these prehistoric giants. In fact, some species of dinosaur are only known to have existed thanks to the discovery of their fossilised teeth.

Some dinosaurs, like Gallimimus and Ornithomimus, had no teeth at all. These toothless wonders had beaks, with which they ate small animals, plants and insects.

Most dinosaurs had grinding teeth or nipping teeth for eating plants. Some dinosaurs, like Apatosaurus, had long, rake-like teeth that they used to strip leaves off branches. Hadrosaurs (duck-billed dinosaurs) had the most teeth, with up to 960 in rows, much like grinding machines. Stegosaurus had lots of little leaf-like teeth and they grazed on low-growing plants and weeds.

Carnivorous dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex and Giganotosaurus had sharp, grooved teeth, like steak knives. They would rip meat off their prey (typically plant-eating dinosaurs) and swallow it whole. T. rex had the largest gnashers of all, with around 50-60 bone-crunching teeth as big as bananas (about 23 cm). One T. rex was discovered with some teeth up to 33cm long.

Whereas humans only get two sets of teeth in a lifetime, dinosaurs replaced their teeth constantly, just like sharks. The Diplodocus, for example, would grow a new tooth as often as once a month. These giant plant-eaters had little pencil-shaped teeth. They chewed through enormous amounts of vegetation so their teeth would have quickly worn away.

It’s thanks to those prehistoric pearly whites that we know so much about dinosaurs and how they lived on our planet millions of years ago. Click here for some more bite-sized dinosaur facts:

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