Nigersaurus is a herbivorous dinosaur that lived in the terrestrial habitat now known as Niger’s Sahara Desert for over 110 to 115 millions years ago. Nigersaurus is a genus of Rebbachisauridae family and was about 9m (30ft) long, short neck and weighed around 4 t(4.4 short tons).
Its discovery was traced back to Elrahaz Formation in the area called Gadoufaoua in the Republic of Niger and its fossils were first mentioned in 1976. It was named Nigersaurustaqueti in the 1999 when the remaining fossils were found.
This species became a popular meme when a Reddit user posted on his page with a caption: “Whatever you do, don’t google the dinosaur that has 500 teeth.” It became an internet sensation and a top search topic that went viral on Reddit when a user posted it as a joke and to get people to say the N-word.
Super family: Diplodocoidea
Sub family: Rebbachisauridae Suriname
Species: Nigersaurus taqueti
History of Discovery
This tall-fat-short-neck-reptile that look like a huge lizard was first mentioned by a French paleontologist named Phillippe Taquet in his research paper in 1976. He discovered the first remains in 1965-1972 during his research expedition in the Republic of Niger. Due to not all the skeletons were found, it was not recognized as a complete work then.
In 1999, An American paleontologist Paul Sereno from the Chicago University, made his own complete discovery about the Dinosaur during his field trip in Elrahz Formation, Gadoufaoua, in the Republic of Niger. He uncovered the remaining fossils of this carnivorous dinosaur.
In his Online Research Note he wrote:
“ Nigersaurus lived in a lush environment alongside the predatory dinosaur Suchomimus, the plant eaters ouranosaurus and lurdusaurus, and supercroc. Nigersaurus had a delicate skull and an extremely wide mouth lined with teeth especially adapted for browsing plants close to the ground. This bizarre, long-necked dinosaur is characterized by its unusually broad, straight-edged muzzle tipped with more than 500 replaceable teeth. The original fossil skull of Nigersaurus is one of the first dinosaur skulls to be digitally reconstructed from CT scans.”
He gave a full description of its skull and the feeding habits with the help of his colleague Jeffery A. Wilson in 2007 and presented a complete molded of the dinosaur’s head to the National Geographic Society in Washington.
How The Name Was Formed?
Nigersaurustaqueti was coined from the words, “Niger Reptile” as Reptile found in Republic of Niger and “Taqueti” which honored the French Paleontologist Phillippe Taquet who found its first fossils( remains) in 1976.
Did the dinosaur have 500 teeth?
According to Paul Sereno journal, he wrote: This sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) has an unusual skull containing as many as 500 slender teeth.
The slender teeth had slightly curved tooth crowns, which were oval in cross-section. The crowns were distinct in having prominent ridges on the margins of their midline and sides. The teeth in the upper jaw is slightly different from the one in the lower jaw and they were all identical. Each tooth had a column of nine replacement teeth with 68 columns within the upper and lower jaws(Known as dental batteries). These can also be found in hadrosaurs and ceratopsians which contained a total number of more than 500 active and replacement teeth.
Nigersaurus was similar to sauropods with a small head, thick hind legs and a dinosaur’s tail. The reptile had a small body with the length of only 9m(30ft) and its femur(its thighbone) reaching only 1m(3ft 3 in) and weighed 4 t(4.4 short tons). According to some paleontologists, the dinosaur could be compared to the weight and height of a modern elephant. And had a short neck with thirteen cervical vertebrae
The skull of Nigersaurus had four opening on each side known as fenestrae, larger than the ones found in other Sauropodomorphs. The bone that connected the muzzle to the back of its skull was 1.0cm2 . Though, the skull was strong enough to resist the shearing of the teeth. It had a closed supratemporal fenestrae and the nasal openings, the bony nostrils were elongated. Those nasal bones were not fully known and it appeared at the front margin its bony nostril that was closer to its snout. The snout was shorter and the tooth was not at all prognathous, not protruding relatively to the remaining of the tooth series.
Nigersaurus had a distinct feature, its elongated skull was gone with a marked depression in the cerebral fossa-cavity.
According to the French paleontologist Paul sereno, he described his body as a huge ancient crocodile. The armor plates were placed its back for 1 foot. Its back has paired pneumatic spaces at the spines that projected upwardly from the vertebrae.
The vertebral arches were heavily pierced with interesting thick laminae between the pneumatic openings. Its tail has a vertebrae solid centra . The pelvic and pectoral progle bones were only a few millimeters thick. It had a robust limbs like any other dinosaurs. The front legs may be similar to the two-thirds the hinds legs just like the one found in Diplodocoidea.
Nigersaurus was first classified by Phillippe Taquet as dicraeosaurid in 1976, but Paul Sereno and his medical groups reclassified it as a rabbachisaurid diplodocoid. These researchers postulated that Nigersaurus might came from the basal diplodocoids since it had short necks and small size which were ancestral features among the group.
Nigersaurus had an underdeveloped olfactory region of its brain and its sense of smell didn’t advance. This was postulated by Paul and his medical group after we thought it had a larger nostrils and a fleshy snout. Its body mass was totally different from a normal reptile and smaller than those of ornithischians.
The brain of Nigersaurus was 30% volume and the eyes were placed towards the top of the skull which could made it had to detect predators because of its short neck.
In 2017, another Argentinian paleontologist Lucio M. Ibiricu and his medical crew critically observed the dinosaur skeletal pneumatic-its cavities filled with air- and postulated that the eyes and brain position were to help in lowering its skeleton density and decreased the energy in the muscle which was needed for movement.
Just like any carnivorous dinosaur which had lived in some part of the world, the Nigersaurus was different. It fed on ground level plants like ferns, weeds and aquatic vegetables. During that period, grass did not evolve and may have used its teeth like a comb to filter out aquatic ferns and other plants.
According to Paul Sereno, he stated that the Nigersaurus fed on conifers or aquatic vegetation because of their stiff body structure which was not flexible for them to move easily in search of food. Wedel suggested that their evenly spaced teeth can be compared to modern flamingos. Its lateral orientation of teeth made it difficult for them to chew well. This, on the other hand, had caused tooth decay and the tooth replacement rate was higher than any other dinosaur and took place every 14 days.
They had a low browsing for ground level growing plants.
Where did they live?
The first fossils of Nigersaurus were found in the Elrahz Formation of the Tegma group, located in Gadoufaoua in the Republic of Niger. Nigersaurus have lived here for about 110-115 millions years during the subdivision( aptian) and albian ages of mid- cretaceous. This region was known for its fluvial sandstones with low relief, coarse-medium grains and alluvial plain- a plain formed by the deposition of sediment from the periodic flooding of a river- which sustain the flora for food.
It could be seen that this herbivorous Niger reptile that existed about 110milion years were slightly different from the carnivorous dinosaurs that fed on flesh. It was harmless and that was why they were only group of diplodocoids that survived into the late Cretaceous. There are more research on this animal and more things to discover about this Niger dinosaur.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a 500 teeth dinosaur called?
The dinosaur is known as Nigersaurustaqueti or Nigersaurus which can be pronounced like Nija–Sir–urus.
What dinosaur has 10000 teeth?
The Nigersaurus had its tooth replaced every 14 days after every tooth decay. It could be true they had more than 500 teeth during that time.
Who named the Nigersaurus?
The remaining fossils were found by French paleontologist Paul sereno and his crew and was named in 1999 after Phillippe Taquet mentioned it in his work in early 1950’s.