Cannibal Dinosaurs Went Through Teeth Like Paper Plates at a Cookout

Science | By Holly Patrick | December 10, 2019

Everyone remembers the first time they watched Jurassic Park, the film about dinosaurs brought back to life that end up terrorizing a park full of people. The true terror of dinosaurs was immediately felt with that movie's ultra-realistic effects. It taught us to fear the mighty tyrannosaurus rex and the fearsome velociraptor.

Dinosaurs are one of the last things you would want to encounter in the real world. They don't need to be any scarier than they already are, but alas, there is a dinosaur that is somehow scarier than the most common ones like the T-Rex or the velociraptor. That's because it's a cannibal.

That's right. There was a dinosaur that was a cannibal - a dinosaur that eats other dinosaurs of its same kind. This ferocious beast was so extremely deadly and mean that it would have to replace its teeth constantly. Read on to find out about this predator you might see on the big screen someday.

Meet the cannibalistic Majungasaurus crenatissimus

An amazing fact about dinosaurs is that they were constantly losing and growing back teeth. They could go through tens or even hundreds of sets of teeth in their lifetime. This was especially true for plant-eating dinosaurs, or herbivores, because their constant chewing of tough plants had them going through teeth very quickly. Researchers have now discovered that there is a carnivorous dinosaur that went through even more teeth than its herbivore contemporaries - that's because it's a cannibal.

The scientists hypothesize that this is because the dinosaur, the Majungasaurus crenatissimus, had to chew through bones and flesh since it was eating other dinosaurs. The Majungasaurus crenatissiumus lived in Madagascar 70 million years ago, and luckily there are tons of fossils for it, including several complete skeletons. Along with the bons, thousands of teeth have been found as well.

Similar to Sharks Teeth

Regarding the thousands of teeth found, Michael D. D'Emic remarked that its pretty unheard-of. D'Emic is a vertebrate paleontologist at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. He led the study. The study also included fossils for the Creatosaurus and the Allosaurus, two carnivores who existed in the Western United States 150 million years ago.

Dr. D'Emic and his team used a diamond-tipped saw to cut the teeth of the Majungasaurus, Creatosaurus and Allosaurus to look at the layers in the teeth. The layers would show how much the tooth extended in length per day. The scientists were able to figure out the age of the teeth. What they found is similar to sharks teeth, where multiple teeth lay on top of each other like a series of cones stacked on top of one another.

How Did They Find Out The Majungasaurus was a Cannibal?

The scientists were able to figure out how often the three dinosaurs replaced teeth. The Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus went through teeth every 100 days, while the Majungasaurus went through teeth every 56 days. That's twice as much as other carnivores. David Evans, a paleontologist not involved with the study, said, "It's really surprising to see such elevated tooth replacement rates in a meat-eating dinosaur. This is on the level of what we'd expect to see in bulk feeding, high-fiber herbivores."

This led the researchers to wonder why the Majungasaurus went through so many teeth. They found teeth marks that match the Majungasaurus etched into the bones of other dinosaurs, including other Majungasaurus. This makes it clear that the Majungasaurus was a cannibal. It sounds like Jurassic Park might have a storyline for their next movie, doesn't it?



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