See even dinosaurs required janitors.
Article Launched: 11/16/2007 03:26:20 AM PST
WASHINGTON—A dinosaur with a strange jaw designed to hoover-up food grazed in what is now the Sahara Desert 110 million years ago. Remains of the creature that "flabbergasted" paleontologist Paul Sereno went on display Thursday at the headquarters of the National Geographic Society, where they will remain until March.
Sereno and colleagues recovered, assembled and named the creature—Nigersaurus taqueti—that he said seems to break all the rules, yet still existed.
"The biggest eureka moment was when I was sitting at the desk with this jaw," he said. "I was sitting down just looking at it and saw a groove and ... realized that all the teeth were up front."
It's not normally a good idea to have all the teeth in the front of the jaw—hundreds in this case.
Sure, "it's great for nipping," Sereno said, "but that's not where you want do your food processing."
"That was an amazing moment, we knew we had something no one had ever seen before," Sereno recalled.
Sereno, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence and paleontologist at the University of Chicago, said the first evidence of Nigersaurus was found in the 1990s and now researchers have been able to reconstruct its skull and skeleton.
While Nigersaurus' mouth is shaped like the wide intake slot of a vacuum, it has something lacking in most cleaners—hundreds of tiny, sharp teeth to grind up its food.
Fossil is new family of dinosaur [BBC News]
- Herbivore dinosaur grazed like a cow
- It has been 60 years since French paleontologists found the dinosaur's bones in Saharan Africa, and 10 years since Paul C. Sereno of the University
- Whole new picture of plant- eating dinosaurs
- Could an elephant-size dinosaur with a skull so thin that a karate chop would have split it in two, teeth that lasted only a month, and a brain …
Structural Extremes in a Cretaceous Dinosaur [PLoS ONE]Dinosaur from Sahara ate like a 'mesozoic cow' [Press Release]
National Geographic: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/dinosaurs and http://www.projectexploration.org.
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