Nigersaurus was first described by Philippe Taquet in 1976. The remains were discovered by this French paleontologist during an expedition to the Republic of Niger in 1965-1972. However, due to the absence of a complete skeleton, the discovery often went unnoticed.
Furthermore, he provided an explanation of how this dinosaur with 500 teeth was discovered. A plant-eating What Dinosaur Has 500 Teeth’s bones were partially exposed at Gabe’s feet as she walked across a very flat area. Her top jaw was still covered in sand. Her hips and backbones were visible nearby. An incredibly mean customer purchased these bones, which would be found in a skeleton that measures 30 feet long! Our field season continues and hopefully we will find more evidence of this sharp-toothed creature.”
Other fossils associated with this dinosaur with 500 teeth have also been found in Brazil. However, a complete fossil has yet to be found. Consequently, it is impossible to construct a complete skeleton of the famed Nigersaurus. Still, paleontologists are trying their best to learn more about this ancient animal with 500 teeth.
What is the significance of the name?
A parody of the Nigersaurus has become widespread on the internet due to its peculiar name. However, the name is actually a scientific way of identifying a dinosaur. This dinosaur is scientifically known as Nigersaurus taqueti, which means “Niger reptile” or “reptile from Niger(republic of niger).
Philippe Taqueti, who first referred to this dinosaur, is also remembered in the species name.
Did it have 500 teeth?
It technically had 500 teeth. In addition to its skull, Nigeriasaurus had 500 slender teeth. The teeth, however, were all temporary. A total of 500 teeth were present on Nigersaurus, including both permanent and replacement teeth!
But where did this large dinosaur get so many teeth from?
A unique feature of the Nigeriasaurus skull is the presence of four openings in the skull, called Fenestra. In spite of that, the skull was strong enough to withstand the 500 teeth tearing it apart. Additionally, its nostrils were bony and long.
The snout was shorter. It’s fascinating to note, however, that Nigersaurus had shorter snouts. There were no prognathous teeth, and their snot tip was proportionate to their tooth series. Nigersaurus brains also had a distinct depression in the cerebral section due to their elongated skull. They also rotated their maxillary tooth with identical rotation to the lower jaw. It was due to this peculiar characteristic that their mouths were able to accommodate all 500 teeth.
The dinosaur was described by Paul Sereno as a crocodile dinosaur. The armor plates covering its back covered nearly an entire foot. There are thick laminae between the pneumatic openings between the heavily pierced vertebral arches. There was no solid center in the vertebrae of its tail. Only a few millimeters of bone were found in its pelvis and pectoral progle. It had robust limbs just as any sauropod or elongated dinosaur would. Two-thirds of the hind legs were probably on the front of the animal, a distinctive feature of diplodocus.
Classification of the dinosaur with 500 teeth
See below for more information.
- Domain: Animalia
- Animalia, order Chordata
- Chordata: Dinosauria
- Clode: Sauropoda
- Clade: Sauropodomorpha
- Clade: Sauropoda
- Superfamily: Diplodocoidea
- Family: Rebbachisauridae
- Subfamily: Rebecchi Suriname
- Genus: Nigersaurus
- Species: Nigersaurus taqueti
What did it eat?
Herbivores were originally thought to be Nigeriasaurus. Yet it is believed to have been herbivorous like any other sauropod. Some of its teeth are marked with parallel scratches. In herbivores such as ferns, weeds, and other ground-level flora, this often occurs. There was no grass developed during this time. As a result, this dinosaur with 500 teeth lived primarily on horsetails, angiosperms, and ferns. Due to their stiff necks and height, they did not eat cycads, aquatic vegetation, or conifers.
Modern flamingos are similar to them. Similar to these pink birds, Niigersaurus may have used its teeth as a comb to filter out aquatic plants and ferns when eating. Nevertheless, Sereno believes that nigersaurus ate plants on the ground level as well as short conifers.
It could not chew plants very well because of the lateral orientation of its teeth. Consequently, its teeth decayed quickly. As a result, this massive number of teeth was needed to ensure the bad teeth were replaced with a functional one. Herbivorous dinosaurs had a higher rate of tooth replacement than herbivores!
What was its habitat like?
Located in Gadoufaoua in the Republic of Niger, the Elhaz Formation of the Tegma group contained Nigersaurus. Fluvial sandstones are present here, along with rough-medium grain dunes occasional to this region. The mic-cretaceous period depicts this place as a floodplain. In the marshlands, it had access to ground-level flora that provided it with food.