Nigersaurus - 500 Teeth Dinosaur

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Nigersaurus Dinosaurios

Name: Nigersaurus (Greek for “Niger lizard”); pronounced NYE-jer-SORE-us
Named By: Sereno,‭ ‬Beck,‭ ‬Dutheil,‭ ‬Larsson,‭ ‬Lyon,‭ ‬Moussa,‭ ‬Sadleir,‭ ‬Sidor,‭ ‬Varricchio,‭ ‬G.P.‭ ‬Wilson and J.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬Wilson‭ ‬-‭ ‬1999
Classification: Saurischia,‭ ‬Sauropodomorpha,‭ ‬Sauropoda,‭ ‬Diplodocidae,‭ ‬Rebbachisauridae.
Species: N.‭ ‬taqueti (Type).
Habitat: Africa,‭ ‬Niger,‭ ‬Elrhaz Formation
Historical Period: Early Cretaceous (110 million years ago)
Size and Weight: About 30 feet long and five tons
Diet: Plants
Distinguishing Characteristics: Relatively short neck; hundreds of teeth in wide jaws
Time period: Aptian or Albian of the Cretaceous.

Nigersaurus Meaning

The name Nigersaurus means “Niger’s Lizard” or “Niger reptile”, and it was one of the oldest dinosaurs ever found. Nigersaurus is a 30-foot-long plant-eating dinosaur. It is a genus of Diplodocus-like sauropod dinosaur. It lived during the middle Cretaceous period, about 119 to 105 million years ago during the Aptian or Albian age.

It was discovered in the rich fossil vertebrate fauna of the Elrhaz Formation in an area called Gadoufaoua, in the Republic of Niger. Fossils of this dinosaur were first described in 1976, but it was only named in 1999 after more complete remains were found and described.

The genus contains a single species, Nigersaurus taqueti, named after French palaeontologist Philippe Taquet, who discovered the first remains.

Nigersaurus Skull

Its skull was very specialised for feeding. It had four large side fenestrae, openings in the skull and thin bones. It had a wide muzzle filled with more than 500 teeth, which were replaced around every 14 days. The jaws may have had a keratinous sheath, something like a wide beak. Nigersaurus is the only known tetrapod animal to have had jaws wider than the skull and teeth that extended laterally across the front. The teeth in the upper jaw may have been 20–30% bigger than those in the lower jaw.

Under each active tooth, there was a column of nine replacement teeth within the jaw. With 68 columns in the upper jaws and 60 columns in the lower jaws, these so-called dental batteries comprised a total of more than 500 active and replacement teeth.

The enamel on the teeth of Nigersaurus was highly asymmetrical, ten times thicker on the outwards facing side than on the inner side.

Nigersaurus Size

Like all sauropods, Nigersaurus was a quadruped with a small head, thick hind legs, and a prominent tail. Among that clade, Nigersaurus was fairly small, with a body length of only 9 m (30 ft) and a femur reaching only 1 m (3 ft 3 in).

Nigersaurus Weight

It may have weighed around 4 t (4.4 short tons), comparable to a modern elephant. It had a short neck for a sauropod, with thirteen cervical vertebrae. Nearly all rebbachisaurids had relatively short necks and a length of 10 m (33 ft) or less. The only member of the family that reached the size of larger sauropods was Rebbachisaurus.

500 Teeth Dinosaur

” Our first week in the field has been spectacular! Remarkable discoveries seem to be waiting for us around every dune. On our first day, we found bones of the long-necked dinosaur Nigersaurus. Nigersaurus, you might remember, we named for bones collected on the last expedition here three years ago. This sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) has an unusual skull containing as many as 500 slender teeth. A major goal of this expedition is to find the rest of this unusual dinosaur so we can describe it and reconstruct it for everyone to see.

We are closing in on that goal fast because we came upon a skeleton a few days later! This skeleton is lying on its side with the tail curved upward. The curve of the backbone measures about 15 feet. We carefully brushed the sand off the 110 million-year-old bones and dug channels between the major areas of the skeleton. Soon we will cover each area in plaster so that the skeleton can be transported out of the field and back to the laboratory.

But that’s not all for Nigersaurus. Chris took us all to a flat area of purple-colored sandstone where he had located the upper jaw of a baby Nigersaurus—one that would fit on top of a silver dollar! This Nigersaurus was a hatchling, probably less than one year from hatching when it died and was fossilized.”



Amazing Nigersaurus Dinosaurios Facts

FACT 1. “Nigersaurus” means “Niger lizard” (it was discovered in the country of Niger).

FACT 2. Nigersaurus was a herbivore – Nigersaurus was a Sauropod – a member of a group of related large quadrupedal herbivorous (plant-eating) dinosaur with long necks.

pic source: Wikimedia Commons
FACT 3. Nigersaurus Has been Called a “Mesozoic Cow.”. Lawn-mower impersonations seem to have been its forte: Nigersaurus’ wide muzzle and shredding teeth were clearly designed for nomming on ground-level vegetation (for the record, grass-guzzling wouldn’t have been an option, as the earliest grasses hadn’t yet begun evolving in its day).
FACT 4. Nigersaurus was a “Short-Necked” Long-Necked Dinosaur. Sauropods are usually associated with extensive necks; some well-endowed species even placed over 35 feet between their heads and shoulders. But Nigersaurus and its closest relatives (which together formed a sub-group called the “Rebbachisauridae”) had little to brag about in this department.

FACT 5. Nigersaurus was Fairly Light-Headed. Its noggin featured some abnormally-thin cranial bones; in fact, many are almost translucent.

FACT 6. It Took Scientists Decades to Realize Just How Odd This Critter Was. Nigersaurus received its scientific name in 1976, but paleontologists wouldn’t get a decent idea of what the animal looked like until the late 2000s. Why? This dino’s skeleton was, in many places, hollow, making it vulnerable to shattering and distortion. Before 1997, though specimens were common, no decent ones had turned up—so for years, few suspected that Nigersaurus was anything other than some run-of-the-mill, Plain Jane sauropod.

pic source: Wikimedia Commons

FACT 7. Nigersaurus was a member of the Saurischia (“lizard-hipped”) order of dinosaurs. What this means, is that although Nigersaurus was not closely related to lizards, it did have similarly shaped pelvic bones.

FACT 8. Nigersaurus lived between about 119 million years ago and 99 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period.

FACT 9. Nigersaurus had a very unusual mouth for a Sauropod – it had a wide intake like a vacuum cleaner (wider than the rest of its skull), and after taking in the food, it chewed it using hundreds small sharp teeth..

FACT 10. We’ve Found Pieces of Tiny Nigersaurus Babies. Though adults were roughly 30 feet long, the itsy-bitsy fossilized jawbone of a hatchling Nigersaurus was so small that, according to paleontologist Paul Sereno, it could “fit on top of a silver dollar.”

FACT 11. Nigersaurus’ Sense of Smell Left a Lot to be Desired. Nigersaurus probably didn’t spend much time following its nose. An examination of its brain cavity reveals that, despite having elongated nostrils, this herbivore’s olfactory lobes (which help the brain perceive scent) were noticeably small.

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