Dinosaur that ate like a cow, discovered in Sahara

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New York, Nov 16 (UNI) A 110-million-year-old dinosaur's remains have been discovered in the Sahara that had a mouth that worked like a vacuum cleaner, hundreds of tiny teeth and nearly translucent skull bones.

Found by the National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Paul Sereno, paleontologist and professor at the University of Chicago, the dinosaur is a plant eater known as 'Nigersaurus taqueti' and measured 30 feet in length.

Nigersaurus managed to sustain its elephant-sized body with a featherweight skull armed with hundreds of needle-shaped teeth, said Mr Sereno.

Barely able to lift its head above its back, Nigersaurus operated more like a Mesozoic cow than a reptilian giraffe, mowing down mouthfuls of greenery that consisted largely of ferns and horsetails.

Originally named by Mr Sereno and his team in 1999 with only a few of its distinctive bones in hand, Nigersaurus has emerged as an anatomically bizarre dinosaur.

''Among dinosaurs, Nigersaurus sets the Guinness record for tooth replacement,'' Science Daily quoted Mr Sereno as saying.

The dinosaur's oddest feature was a broad, straight-edged muzzle, which allowed its mouth to work close to the ground.

Unlike any other plant eater, Nigersaurus had more than 50 columns of teeth, all lined up tightly along the front edge of its squared-off jaw, forming, in effect, a foot-long pair of scissors.

A CT scan of the jaw bones showed up to nine ''replacements'' stacked behind each cutting tooth, so that when one wore out, another immediately took its place. There were more than 500 teeth in total, with a new tooth in each column joining the scissors edge every month.


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