Interesting facts about Nigersaurus

Interesting Facts About Nigersaurus: The Dinosaur With 500 Teeth

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  • Post last modified:March 29, 2024

Nigersaurus are rebbachisaurid sauropods and are famous for having 500 teeth, which are slender. These are famous dinosaurs which were recently recognized in the year 2000 and were named in honor of the “Niger” country. So, in this blog, we will tell you some interesting facts about this famous dinosaur.

About The ‘Mesozoic Cow,’ Nigersaurus

Nigersaurus was a long-necked dinosaur that typically lived during the middle Cretaceous period (approximately 115 to 105 million years ago). The term “Nigersaurus” has two parts and meaning; Niger (name of a country) and Saurus (a reptile). This strange dinosaur had a shovel-shaped head that used to skim side to side to cut grass and have it.

Nigersaurus typically means “Niger’s Lizard” and was one of the oddest and strangest dinosaurs ever. These reptiles preferred living in the “riparian zone,” typically with streams and water lakes nearby. Due to plenty of water, this zone has a variety of low-lying vegetation. These zones helped “Nigersaurus” with a lot of vegetation. Their habitats were similar to the other dinosaurian herbivores, mainly Apatosaurus.

Behavior and Lifestyle of Nigersaurus

The behavior of a “Nigersaurus” was similar to herbivore sauropods. They mostly have spent their excessive time grazing low-lying vegetation and in hang-dog positions. They had problems holding their head horizontally or in an upward position. So, eating the leaves of the tree was nearly impossible for them. Many fossilists (experts in the area of science concerned with plants and fossil animals) believe that their lifestyle and behavior are similar to today’s cows.

Diet of Nigersaurus

Like the other Sauropods, ‘Nigersaurus were also herbivores. They used to graze low-lying vegetation that used to be close to the ground. They used to have a broad muzzle, helping them to crop more low-lying vegetative materials in a single bite. It is probably assumed that they ate only grass, but it did not evolve back then. They mostly ate

  • Ferns,
  • Angiosperms,
  • And also horsetails.

Many researchers (paleontologists) believed that the arrangement of their teeth was more like a comb. With this feature, it was easier for them to have filtered and thus eat water plants.

Some Interesting Facts About Nigersaurus

There are some mind-blowing facts related to this long-necked dinosaur:

1. A Gigantic set of 500 teeth

“Nigersaurus” was equipped with 500 teeth, both replacement and “active.”

  • The upper part of their jaws contained 60 rows of needle-shaped small teeth,
  • Whereas the lower jaws had 68 sharp-edged teeth.
  • Similar to shark teeth, these teeth were also replaceable.

Meaning that “Nigersaurus” repeatedly needed fresh teeth as older teeth were lost or worn down. Animals or species who do this are known as “Polyphyodonts,” and many toothed fishes show this ability along with various reptiles, including geckos and crocodiles. 

2. One of the first dinosaurs to get a CT scan

Numerous postcranial (bones beyond the skull) and a partial skull have only been found. However, ‘Nigersaurus’ was one of the first animals to be studied using CT scans (computerized tomography). 

3. Nigersaurus was more like a cow than a sauropod

Taking evidence from 3D/computer modeling and CT scans, many researchers have examined that sauropods habitually held their heads downwards, which means towards the ground.

However, after conducting a biochemical analysis, one team of experts said that the muzzle and head were habitually oriented 67° toward the ground due to adaptation for ground or low-level browsing.

On the other hand, this report has been questioned by other experts who believe ‘Nigersaurus’ was probably more like other sauropods. 

4. Their teeth were replaced every 14 days

After a West African country, the Republic of Nigeria, the name ‘Nigersaurus’ was invented. During the time of this creature, the landscape, which is now a part of the Sahara desert, is supposed to have been covered with entwining rivers and forests.

As we have witnessed in the pictures, ‘Nigersaurus’ had a broad muzzle and gigantic teeth, which were perfect for eating low-lying plants. Their lifestyle and diet would have required them to replace their teeth after fourteen days.

The primary reason for replacing teeth was mainly worn-out tooth crowns. In the journal PLOS One 2013, a study was published revealing that Nigersaurus most likely replaced each ‘new’ tooth after fourteen days. 

5. Weight is like a modern-day elephant

Nigersaurus was about 9.1 meters (30 feet) long and 2.4 meters (8 feet) at the hip area and is most likely to have weighed only between 2 and 4 tons. Similarly, like a modern-day elephant’s weight, the mystery lies in the bones.

Nigesaurus had such a delicate bone structure, which made the scientists discover only a small amount of fossils. According to Sereno et al. 2007, this dinosaur had an exceptionally lightweight skull. Many of the head bones of Nigersaurus were two millimeters thick. Most importantly, many of its bones have more air than bone, measured by volume. 

6. Nigersaurus was officially recognized in 1999

During the 1950s, French Fossilists in the Nigerian Sahara found the first fossils of Nigersaurus. However, because of their fragility, many bones were either incomplete or isolated, and it was unattainable to identify the species. A Sereno team member identified the skull bones of Nigersaurus in 1997.

After two expeditions, sufficient material was found to restore 80% of the dinosaur’s skeleton. In the year 1999, locating more fossils gave fossilists their first sight of the dinosaurs’ vacuum-like mouths and complex dental batteries. In honor of French Paleontologist Philippe Taquet, Sereno named the species Nigersaurus Taqueti. 

7. They lived in a wild neighborhood

The area where the Nigersaurus lived millions of years ago was indeed perfect and blissful but surely had many dangers. It was a beautiful home to other giant herbivorous dinosaurs. Still, it was also full of therapods, including three-toed carnivorous dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex, a group of bipedals, Suchomimus, Eocarcharia, and Kryptops.

Many crocodile-like creatures lived in that area, including the 9-meter (30-foot) long Sarcosuchus and small Araripesuchus and Antosuchus. 

8. A Nigersaurus baby has been found

According to paleontologist Paul Sereno, his team discovered evidence of baby Nigersaurus. However, the remains are pretty scanty, with only the upper jaw of the baby Nigersaurus. In short, the discoveries are pretty small to fit on a silver dollar. 

9. Nigersaurus had a poor sense of smelling things

The reconstructions of the brain of this species revealed that it was likely to have a very poor sense of smelling things. This secret revealed that despite their elongated nostrils, the brain’s smelling region (olfactory) was typically small for its size. 

10. While feeding, Nigersaurus could see 360 degrees

Researchers have discovered that the position of the Nigersaururs’ eyes on their skull was higher and located further above the muzzle than that of other sauropods. It implies that its visual fields overlap, which results in a nearly 360-degree view, typically like a modern cow.

Similarly, it was difficult for a Nigersaurus to detect any coming danger or threat to them.

Final Words

Nigersaurus was a 30-foot-long dinosaur that lived millions of years ago in Niger. This species lived in a green and lush forest area with many dangerous animals. This plant-eating species had a very delicate skull and an exceptionally giant set of teeth with a wide mouth and 500 slender and replaceable teeth. They especially ate the ground-level plants because they had low-hanging long necks. They were the first dinosaurs to be digitally reconstructed from CT scans.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why was it named Nigersaurus?

Ans. The term “Nigersaurus” has two parts; Niger (name of a country) and Saurus (a reptile). Also, the specific name Nigersaurus Taqueti honors Taquet, the first to organize huge-scale palaeontological expeditions to the country. 

2. What is the dinosaur with 1000000 teeth?

Ans. Nigersaurus was known as the “Mesozoic Lawnmower” because it had so many teeth. Their slender teeth are used to eat low-ground-level grass and plants.

3. What dinosaur has 500 rows of teeth?

Ans. The dinosaur with 500 rows of teeth is the Nigersaurus. They have sharp-edged teeth, which used to be replaced after 14 days. They are more like a modern-day cow who eats only ground-level plants.  

4. How did Nigersaurus eat?

Ans. Nigersaurus grazed more like a modern-day cow than a giraffe. They used to eat low-level grass, horsetails, ferns, and plants and weren’t able to eat the leaves from the trees. Their most unique and oddest feature was a straight-edged and broad muzzle, allowing them to work closely to the ground. 

Divya Stuti

UGC-awarded researcher, Divya Stuti is a curious soul with a flair for writing from her childhood. She has been working in the Digital Marketing industry since 2020 and possesses a treasure of practical knowledge in this field. She has completed a Master's in English and is exploring the online world of marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends and updates and tests everything she learns.

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