After the Reddit meme “don’t google the internet with what dinosaur has 500 teeth” broke the internet, the Nigersaurus became an internet viral meme sensation. A simple google auto-suggestion frequently triggers bizarre events that pique public interest in a particular matter or subject. The Nigersaurus is in the same boat. This carnivorous dinosaur lived 115 million years ago in the Republic of Niger, a small West African country, and looked nothing like the meme! So, how did this one-of-a-kind dinosaur look in its prime? And how did it come to be known? So, here’s a quick primer on the fabled “dinosaur with 500 teeth.”
Nigersaurus was first mentioned in 1976 in a research paper by Phillippe Taquet. During an expedition in the Republic of Niger in 1965-1972, this French paleontologist discovered the remains. However, because there was no complete skeleton, the discovery was often overlooked.
In 1999, Paul Sereno, a paleontologist from Chicago University, led an expedition to the Elrahz Formation in Gadoyfaoua, Niger. He discovered the carnivorous dinosaur’s complete skeleton. In 2007, Sereno and his colleague Jeffrey A. Wilson published a new description of the Nigersaurus skull and feeding habits. He also presented the National Geographic Society in Washington with a complete plastic model of the dinosaur’s head.
On September 9, 2000, Sereno wrote in his online journal, “Nigersaurus, you may recall, we named for bones collected on the last expedition here three years ago.” The skull of this sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) is unusual, as it contains 500 slender teeth. One of the expedition’s main objectives is to locate the rest of this unusual dinosaur so that we can describe and reconstruct it for all to see.”
He also went into detail about how the team discovered this one-of-a-kind dinosaur with 500 teeth. “While walking across a very flat area, Gabe made a remarkable discovery—the bones of a new plant-eating dinosaur lay partially exposed at her feet,” according to his description. She rubbed the sand out of her upper jaw. Parts of the backbone and hip bones were nearby.
The bones are from a skeleton that would be about 30 feet long, so this was a ruthless customer! “As the field season progresses, we hope to find more evidence of this sharp-toothed creature.”
Other dinosaur fossils with 500 teeth have also been discovered in Brazil. But a complete fossil has yet to be discovered. As a result, building a complete skeleton of the legendary Nigersaurus was impossible. Nonetheless, paleontologists are doing their best to conduct extensive research in order to learn more about this ancient millennia animal.
What’s the story behind the name?
Because of its unusual name, Nigersaurus has become the subject of internet memes. However, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the name is a scientific method of naming dinosaurs. The scientific name for this dinosaur is Nigersaurus taqueti, which comes from the genus “Nigersaurus,” which means “Niger reptile” or “Niger reptile” (republic of niger). The name also honors Phillippe Taqueti, who was the first to mention this dinosaur.
Is it true it had 500 teeth?
Technically, it did. Nigersaurus had a 500-toothed skull. All of these teeth, however, were not meant to be permanent. Nigersaurus had a total of 500 teeth, which included both permanent and replacement teeth!
What did the 500-toothed dinosaur look like?
In a nutshell, Nigersaurus is a Sauropod. It used to have a smaller head, tail, and ticker hind legs like any other dinosaur. It stood only 9 meters tall, with a 1-metre femur. Paleontologists estimate that they weighed 4 tonnes. As a result, a Nigersaurus might have been the same height and weight as a modern elephant. It has a short neck, with only thirteen cervical vertebrae, due to its body structure.
It has a skull.
Nigersaurus has four Fenestra openings in its skull, which are larger than those of other dinosaurs with longer necks. The skull, on the other hand, was sturdy enough to withstand the shearing of the 500 teeth. It had bony, elongated nostrils as well.
Their snouts were noticeably shorter. Nigersaurus, on the other hand, had snouts that were shorter. Their snot tip was proportional to their tooth series and their tooth row was not prognathous. Another distinguishing feature of the Nigersaurus was its elongated skull, which was replaced by a prominent depression in the cerebral section. Additionally, their maxillary tooth was rotated in the same way as their lower jaw. This one-of-a-kind feature allowed them to keep all 500 teeth in their mouth.
Their teeth were made for their carnivorous lifestyle. Lower jaw teeth were 20-30% smaller than upper jaw teeth. The teeth also had asymmetrical enamel and curved tooth crowns (thicker on the outside). It enabled them to uproot plants from the ground.
This dinosaur was described as an ancient crocodile by Paul Sereno. It had 1 foot of armor plates on its back. The vertebral arches are heavily pierced, with thick interesting laminae between the pneumatic openings. Its tail vertebrae lacked solid centra. It had very thin pelvic and pectoral progle bones. It had robust limbs, just like any other sauropod or elongated dinosaur. The front lends may have been two-thirds of the hind legs, a diplodocus characteristic.
Dinosaur classification with 500 teeth
Touquet was the first to classify Nigersaurus as a dicraeosaurus. Sereno, however, reclassified it as a rebbachisaurid diplodocoid. According to him, it also had shorter necks, which was a characteristic of rebbachisaurid diplodocoid.
Animalia is a kingdom of animals.
Chordata is a phylum of animals.
Dinosauria is a dinosaur clade.
Saurischia is a clade of plants that belong to the Saurischia
Sauropodomorpha is a clade that includes dinosaurs.
Sauropoda is a clade of dinosaurs.
Diplodocoidea is a superfamily of animals.
Rebbachisauridae is a family of reptiles.
Suriname’s Rebecchi Subfamily
Nigersaurus is a genus of dinosaur.
What did it eat, exactly?
Nigersaurus was thought to be a herbivore at first. But, like any other sauropod, it is thought to be a herbivore. Minor parallel tooth scratches with pits are present. This is common in herbivores that eat ferns, weeds, and other ground-level flora. During this time period, the grass did not evolve. As a result, this dinosaur with 500 teeth survived by eating horsetails, angiosperms, ferns, and other plants. Due to their stiff neck and height, they were unable to eat cycads, aquatic vegetation, or conifers.
It couldn’t chew plants very well due to the lateral orientation of its teeth. This resulted in the rapid decay of their teeth. As a result, they required this massive quantity of 500 teeth to ensure that the bad teeth were replaced with new, functional ones. Their rate of tooth replacement is higher than that of any other herbivore dinosaur!
Where did it spend its time?
Nigersaurus lived in Gadoufaoua, Niger, in the Elhaz Formation of the Tegma group. Fluvial sandstones with low reliefs and occasional dunes with coarse-medium grains can be found in this area. During the mic-cretaceous period, however, this area was a floodplain. The marshland provided it with enough food from the ground-level flora to keep it alive.