Inside a dinosaur’s tooth


Close-up photography reveals exquisite adaption to diet.


An extreme close-up of the enamel on a tooth of the dinosaur Changchunsaurus parvus.

An extreme close-up of the enamel on a tooth of the dinosaur Changchunsaurus parvus.

Chen et al., 2018

Taken under cross-polarised light, this is an image of wavy enamel on the tooth of a dinosaur known as Changchunsaurus parvus, a small herbivore that roamed around China during the Cretaceous period.

After closely examining the teeth of five Changchunsaurus fossils, a team led Chen Jun of Jilin University in China concludes that the animals – very early members of the Ornithischian, or “bird-hipped”, dinosaur lineage – were perfectly adapted to being herbivores, and showed some features thought to have evolved millions of years later.

“These tissue-level details of the teeth of Changchunsaurus tell us that their teeth were well-adapted to their abrasive, plant-based diets,” Jun says.

“Most surprisingly, the wavy enamel described here, presumably to make it more resistant to wear, was previously thought to be exclusive to their giant descendants, the duckbilled dinosaurs.”

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