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This Dinosaur Went Through Teeth Like Crackers

Credit: Michael D’Emic/Adelphi University

If I could do this, I wouldn’t even bother with the dentist.

Unlike many parts of our bodies, we only get two sets of teeth, no more, no less. You get your baby teeth, those fall out, then you get your adult chompers. Lose those, and it’s dentures for you. But the interesting thing about animals is how their bodies can produce those kinds of natural tools at a much greater rate than we can. One ancient lizard shed its teeth on a bi-monthly basis!

According to a new study out of Adelphi University in New York, the Majungasaurus, a seemingly typical example of carnivorous dinosaur, loved meat so much, that it would wear its teeth down to nubs chewing on it. When its teeth wore out, they’d fall out, and new ones would grow in the sockets at a remarkably fast rate; anywhere from two to thirteen times faster than other carnivorous dinosaurs.

Michael D’Emic, the study’s author, believes the primary wear and tear on the teeth came from gnawing on the bones of prey. “There is independent evidence for this in the form of scratches and gouges that match the spacing and size of their teeth on a variety of bones — bones from animals that would have been their prey,” he explains. Researchers could actually cut open samples of Majungasaurus teeth and count the rings like a tree! Though, unlike a tree, those rings didn’t indicate years, but single days. Guess Majungasaurus didn’t have much use for yearly cleanings.