Oct 5, 2012

A Tiny Dinosaur With Vampire-Like Fangs Devoured Plants?

Pegomastax africanus was a tiny dinosaur having vampire-like fangs ,  being  2-foot-long (0.6-meter-long) as a heterodontosaur and living about 200 million years ago. 

P. africanus species  were "scampering around between the toes of other dinosaurs at the dawn of the dinosaur era,"  declared  Paul Sereno, a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. 

Being covered with porcupine-like quills and sporting a blunt as a parrot , P. africanus  seemed to be  a "strange little bird," noted Sereno.

Its fangs were more like those of the pig like peccary or fanged deer, or like plant-eating mammals using their teeth for self-defense and foraging, Sereno declared.

The scientist said that P. africanus species would have lived along forested rivers in southern Africa in the period when this continent belonged to the super continent Pangaea,which  split  into  landmasses long time ago.

 Reassembling P. africanus' jaw and teeth ,Sereno compared the reconstruction  of jaws and teeth  with modern plant-eating mammals  having fangs.

Sereno concluded that P. africanus' fangs were very similar to those of fanged deer and peccaries, which use their fangs in self-defense and competition for mates.

The researcher declared that the cheek teeth in P. africanus' upper and lower jaws worked like self-sharpening scissors for shearing plants.

 Hans-Dieter Sues, a vertebrate paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. was impressed that Sereno "worked out how these dinosaurs chewed their food, which helps understand their peculiar, molar-like teeth."

 Sereno  suggested that P. africanus' sophisticated jaw structures evolved  millions of years later in mammals.

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