The sad story behind the smile of a fossil

The sad story behind the smile of a fossil


Before the appearance of dinosaurs, the world belonged to reptiles called rhinoceros (beaks). They were about the size of pigs and lived all over the earth 225 million to 245 million years ago during the middle and late Triassic. Michael Benton“Although they were the most successful herbivores of their time, no one has heard of them,” says paleontologist at the University of Bristol, England.

Benton says the rhinoceros may have overshadowed the first dinosaurs. Of course, they comprise 90% of vertebrate fossils in some Triassic excavations. written by New York TimesScientists attribute their remarkable success to their unique method of chewing, in which they used a scissor-like motion to crush tough plants between their teeth and jawbone. This unusual way of eating may have been problematic for the rhinoceros in old age.

A recent article by Dr. Benton and colleagues in the journal Palaeontology published, suggests that it is possible that rhynchosaurs’ teeth were worn down and flattened as they aged. According to Dr. Benton, old rhynchosaurs that could not chew their food may have died of starvation.

Dr. Benton began working on rhynchosaur teeth in the 1980s while earning his Ph.D. While examining their fossils, he noticed that these reptiles ground their food by squeezing their teeth against their jaws, which is a strange technique, because grinding food by pulling teeth on their jaws puts the animals at risk of infection. The growth of the jaws made the mouth of the rhinoceros crooked and gave them a permanent grin.

Yara HaridiWhile a small number of animals today, including some chameleons, chew their food this way, scientists don’t know how they do it, said the University of Chicago biologist, who was not involved in the paper but reviewed it. The use of this technique is especially odd for an animal like the rhynchosaur, which fed almost exclusively on tough plants that damaged its teeth over time.


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