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Dino Tooth Replacement

July 22, 2013

The world’s largest dinosaurs had to replace their teeth constantly to keep up with all their eating.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Mesozoic dental records. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Sauropod dinosaurs (Killdevil/Wikipedia)

The largest land animals that ever lived, the sauropod dinosaurs, had to eat constantly to reach their enormous size. All that eating put a lot of wear on their teeth. Now there’s evidence that these dinos replaced their teeth as often as once a month, according to paleontologists at the University of Michigan.

MICHAEL D’EMIC (Stony Brook University):

Sauropods replaced their teeth throughout their lifetime. So, some of the sauropods might have had up to ten teeth in each tooth socket just lined up, baby teeth ready to go, as teeth were worn down.

HIRSHON:

That’s Michael D’Emic, now of Stony Brook University, who led the study. He says the gigantic vegetarians lived 150 million years ago, before flowering plants and grasses evolved. So they were stuck with a diet of conifers, ferns, and other tough vegetation which sped up tooth abrasion.

D’EMIC:

When we look in detail enough, we can actually learn things about the daily lives of these animals.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society. 

Learn more about this study.