Nigersaurus, you might remember, we named for bones collected on the last expedition here three years ago. This sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) has an unusual skull containing as many as 500 slender teeth. As George Olshevsky notes on his Mesozoic Meanderings site, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about such a dinosaur are sauropods like Diplodocus and Apatosaurus, which have longer, fatter skulls with fewer teeth and smaller chewing surfaces than what you see in Nigersaurus.
There are over 700 species of dinosaurs
Answering a question like what dinosaur has 500 teeth? It requires looking at dinosaur species that have been discovered, and we’ve learned a lot from dinosaurs in recent years. The list of dinosaurs in existence keeps growing, and there are currently over 700 different known species. The earliest dinosaurs date back to about 230 million years ago (way before T-Rex), so it’s pretty safe to say that if you haven’t heard of a dinosaur or know anything about it, then it probably doesn’t exist yet.
Pterodactyl has 4 wings
Pterodactyls have four wings, which can make them seem more like a bird than other dinosaurs. While pterodactyls are similar to birds and modern-day reptiles in some ways, they are distinctly different from both groups. One of their most noticeable differences is that pterodactyls have not just two eyes, but two enormous eyes! This suggests that when these creatures were alive, Earth’s sky was brighter than it is today, making it easier for pterodactyls to see at night. And even though pterodactyls didn’t actually fly — their wings were only for show — one modern-day animal would probably like to give them a try: pelicans!
Triceratops has 3 horns
Triceratops is a member of a group of dinosaurs called ceratopsids, or horned dinosaurs. All ceratopsids have a frill around their neck, but Triceratops’s frill looks more like one-half of a horseshoe crab shell than that of other species in its group. This dinosaur also had three horns on its face—two long ones above its eyes and one short one in front of them. Based on related animals, paleontologists think these horns were probably used for defense and display. The middle horn was likely longer than both others combined. In addition to their formidable appearance, these dinosaurs’ beaks were lined with sharp ridges and surrounded by hundreds of small teeth, perfect for grinding up tough plant material.
Dimetrodon is a sail-backed reptile
In fact, Dimetrodon was a sail-backed reptile. This means it had a tall spine that ran from its head to its tail with little side spines off of it. During its lifetime, Dimetrodon used these sails for display and as protection from predators like sharks and other meat-eating dinosaurs. In terms of size, Dimetrodon’s adult skull was around 12 inches long. On average, they were between 8–16 feet long and 3–5 feet high. The largest known specimen found so far measured 26 feet in length and could weigh up to 2 tons!
Did Darwin get it wrong?
Evolution is one of those scientific theories that people either accept or reject outright. Those who accept it think it explains how dinosaurs like Nigerosaurus came to be, but Darwin’s theory can’t account for some of what we’ve learned about these long-dead creatures. How could a dinosaur develop hundreds of tiny, precisely shaped teeth inside its mouth if evolution were left up to natural selection? Perhaps there was intelligent design at work—or something beyond our understanding—in these truly impressive animals. But which are we more likely to believe: what science tells us or what might make for a good story? If you ask me, I’m guessing 100 percent of readers will pick dinosaur magic over boring ol’ evolution. When dinosaurs have 500 razor-sharp teeth, and they’re hungry, they aren’t going to lose time waiting around for their body parts to slowly evolve!
Stegosaurus was covered in plates
Stegosaurus lived about 150 million years ago, at a time when North America was an archipelago of islands. These plates were its most obvious defense. If a Stegosaurus was surprised by an attacking predator, it could swing its tail like a tennis player at Wimbledon to bash its foe. An additional line of defense is provided by spikes on its hips and shoulders that can’t be seen in these fossils but have been detected in impressions left by Stegosaurus skin.
Brachiosaurus had four legs
Brachiosaurus was a huge dinosaur, with a body length of 26 to 33 meters (85 to 105 feet) and a hip height of around 6.5 meters (21 feet). It lived about 150 million years ago in what is now North America during the late Jurassic period. Like other sauropods, its neck was very long and would have made up about half its total body length. It also had four legs; its front legs were longer than its hind legs, but it could still walk on all fours when it needed to move quickly. However, it mainly walked on two legs, using them to support most of its body weight. Brachiosaurus probably browsed tall trees for food like modern-day giraffes do today.
Brontosaurus wasn’t a real dinosaur
This dinosaur is named after a region and country; thus, it is most likely an African dinosaur. Most of these dinosaurs have at least 100 teeth, but some—like Brachytrachelopan and Diplodocus—have over 200. This dinosaur’s name means what-type-of-dinosaur-has-500-teeth, which refers to its unusual skull structure. Like so many discoveries here in Niger, Nigersaurus teaches us that dinosaurs were much more diverse than we once thought. The fossil record also teaches us that species can be discovered anywhere on Earth: What do you think would be a good nickname for any dinosaurs found in North America? Or Europe? Or Antarctica? You get where I’m going with this…
It is not called what dinosaur500 teeth are because if someone just looks at it’s a number of teeth, he will never know what type of dinosaur was it.
I don’t know what dinosaurs had 500 teeth, but I do know that dinosaurs were extremely diverse in size and morphology. Therefore, if you want to know more about a specific dinosaur, check out Discovering Dinosaurs: Explore Dinosaur Skeletons for details on how to bring these extinct creatures back to life. Who knows what kinds of crazy dinosaurs will come up next?! It could be a spike-headed dinosaur or even one with as many as 500 teeth!