Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dinosaurs' eating habits

British scientists who are trying to solve the mystery behind eating habits of herbivorous Dinosaurs have found that the species had a peculiar way of chewing their food unlike anything alive today.

The scientists at the University of Leicester, who researched the microscopic scratches on the teeth of hadrosaurs - herbivorous duck-billed dinosaurs - discovered that rather than having a flexible lower jaw joint, the creatures had a hinge between the upper jaws and the rest of the skull.

"The Hadrosaurs did chew, but in a totally different way to anything alive today. Rather than a flexible lower jaw joint, they had a hinge between the upper jaws and the rest of the skull," said Paul Barrett, a palaeontologist at the UK-based Natural History Museum.

"As they chew down on their food the upper jaws were forced outwards, flexing along this hinge so that the tooth surfaces slid sideways across each other, grinding and shredding food in the process," he said.

Palaeontologist Mark Purnell of the University of Leicester Department of Geology, who held the research, said, "Our study uses a new approach based on analysis of the microscopic scratches that formed on hadrosaur's teeth as they fed, tens of millions of years ago. The scratches have been preserved intact since the animals died."

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