Academic journal article Science and Children

Paleo-Engineering: New Study Reveals Complexity of Triceratops' Teeth

Academic journal article Science and Children

Paleo-Engineering: New Study Reveals Complexity of Triceratops' Teeth

Article excerpt

When it comes to the three-horned dinosaur Triceratops, science is showing the ancient creatures might have been a little more complex than previously thought.

In fact, their teeth were far more intricate than any reptile or mammal living today.

Gregory Erickson and a team of engineers and paleontologists contend that Triceratops developed teeth that could finely slice through dense material, giving them a richer and more varied diet than modern-day reptiles.

Today, reptilian teeth are constructed in such a way that they are used mostly for seizing food-whether plant or animal--and then crushing it. The teeth do not occlude, or come together, like those of mammals. In essence, they can't chew. The teeth of most herbivorous mammals wear with use to create complex file surfaces for mincing plants.

"It's just been assumed that dinosaurs didn't do things like mammals, but in some ways, they're actually more complex," Erickson says.

Erickson cut up several Triceratops teeth to look at the interior. He discovered that Triceratops teeth were made of five layers of tissue. In contrast, herbivorous horse and bison teeth, once considered the most complex ever to evolve, have four layers of tissue. …

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