This ‘ugly’ dinosaur had giant scissor-like teeth
A new species of dinosaur has been discovered in a southern French village. The 16 foot long Matherondon Provinicialis had surprisingly large teeth for a plant-eater, with nashers measuring up to 2.5 inches long and two inches wide.
The remains the dinosaur’s jawbone and some of its teeth were found at a site in the village of Velaux-La Bastide Neuve. Dr Pascal Godefroit from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Belgium and Koen Stein of the Free University of Brussels wrote a paper, published today, describing the discovery.
The surprisingly large teeth meant the dinosaur had a strange, chisel-shaped face. This was reconstructed using CT scans, showing where the teeth would have been placed in the dinosaur’s mouth.
“Perhaps it was a bit ugly – well, let us hope Mrs Matheronodon thought it was a sexy guy,” said Godefroit. “It was around five metres long, I guess. It’s weight is a bit harder to estimate from the handful of bones we found.”
The dinosaur was as a member of the rhabdodontids – a group of herbivorous bipedal dinosaurs – from the late Campanian period about 84 to 72 million years ago. It would have lived near a river system surrounded by a flood plain. The climate was dry with wet periods, and there were a lot of trees for the dinosaur to munch on.
Its teeth worked like scissors, said Stein. “Its teeth have ridged surfaces but are only covered with a thick enamel layer on one side,” he said. “Chewing actually keeps the teeth sharp.”
This action was used to tackle tough food, like the toughest part of plants rich in fibres, the authors said.
The dinosaurs were not alone when they roamed the area. Other fossils discovered in the same area include freshwater turtles, crocodiles, flying reptiles and other small carnivorous dinosaurs.