The Teeth of 25 Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures
Dinosaur fossils have been discovered on all seven continents, shedding some light on the prehistoric world. Many fossils have contained varying forms of teeth, from sharp, serrated front teeth to grip and pull flesh to complex dental batteries designed to strip and grind plant material. Check out our chart on the teeth from 25 dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures.
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What Dinosaur Had the Largest Teeth?
The legendary Tyrannosaurus rex holds the record for the longest tooth at 12 inches. T. rex had 50 to 60 thick, conical, and serrated teeth that were replaced after being broken. Due to their colossal size, T. rex teeth were reinforced and tightly knit to prevent breakage because the replacement process took about 2 years. Some scientists theorize that Tyrannosaurus rex was primarily a scavenger, but a recent discovery of a T. rex tooth lodged between the tail vertebrae of a herbivorous duck-billed hadrosaur proved that they hunted prey. The hadrosaur’s tail healed and the bone regenerated around the lodged tooth, suggesting that it had been attacked but managed to escape alive.
What Prehistoric Creature Had the Greatest Bite Force?
Tyrannosaurus rex had the most powerful bite of any terrestrial animal. To determine the bite force of the T. rex, paleontologists constructed a three-dimensional digital model of the skull using anatomical research on birds and crocodiles. The results using this model were staggering, reaching a maximum bite force of almost 12,800 pounds, about as much as an adult T. rex’s body weight (or 13 grand pianos). However, the sea-dwelling terror known as C. megalodon puts the T. rex to shame with a bite force of an estimated 41,000 pounds, taking the crown for the greatest bite force of any known creature. It could open its jaws 7 feet tall and 6 feet wide, chomping down on prey like dolphins, sperm whales, and other sharks.
Here are some other fascinating facts about dinosaur teeth:
- All dinosaurs could regrow teeth. Plant-eating dinosaurs regrew teeth more quickly (Diplodocus at a pace of one new tooth every 35 days), while carnivorous dinosaurs replaced teeth more slowly.
- Triceratops teeth were made from five layers of tissue. In contrast, horses and bison have four layers of tissue, and crocodiles have just two.
- Many herbivore dinosaurs swallowed gastroliths. Gastroliths are rocks held inside the gastrointestinal tracts to help grind down food if chewing is not sufficient. Crocodiles, alligators, birds, seals, and sea lions swallow gastroliths today.