Matheronodon provincialis: ‘What Unusual Teeth You Have:’ Cute, Plant-Eating Dinosaur Had Huge Choppers

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Matheronodon provincialis

It may have been a cute plant-eater, but it certainly had big teeth.

A new species of dinosaur with unusually large, chisel-like teeth was recently identified in southern France, a new study reported Thursday.

The creature’s teeth were up to 2.5 inches long and 2 inches wide. “They operated like self-sharpening, serrated scissors,” said study co-author Koen Stein of the Free University of Brussels.

In examining the structure of the teeth, the study authors found that the ridges along the thicker, enameled side of the crown formed a self-sharpening serrated, jagged slicing edge.

“Its teeth have ridged surfaces but are only covered with a thick enamel layer on one side. Chewing actually keeps the teeth sharp,” Stein said.

Fossils of the new species, dubbed Matheronodon provincialis, were discovered in Velaux-La Bastide Neuve, France. The animal lived some 70 million years ago across western Europe.

Study authors say that the dinosaur’s enlarged, blade-like teeth were best adapted for fracturing tough foodstuffs.

The dinosaurs probably ate leaves of palm trees, which were abundant in Europe then, according to study lead author Pascal Godefroit, a paleontologist with the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. “They had to cut rather than crush the fibre-rich leaves, before they could swallow them,” he said.

Godefroit said the dinosaur was a primitive relative of the Iguanodon.

The study appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.