A species of dinosaur from southern France with unusual teeth is described in Scientific Reports this week.
Pascal Godefroit and colleagues describe a new species of rhabdodontid dinosaur - a group of herbivorous bipedal dinosaurs - from the late Campanian period (approximately 84-72 million years ago). Fossils of the new species, Matheronodon provincialis, discovered in Velaux-La Bastide Neuve, show that this dinosaur had large teeth, with a chisel-like cutting edge, measuring around 6 cm in height. In examining the microstructure of the teeth, the authors found that the ridges along the thicker, enameled side of the crown formed a self-sharpening serrated and jagged slicing edge. The authors suggest that the dentition and masticatory apparatus of rhabdodontids were adapted for producing a strict and powerful shearing action, resembling a pair of scissors.
From a biomechnical point of view, the authors argue that the enlarged blade-like teeth, as seen in the new dinosaur, were best adapted for fracturing tough foodstuffs. They suggest that rhabdodontids were adapted to preferentially feed on tough plant parts rich in sclerenchyma fibres - a plant tissue providing mechanical stiffness and strength - such as Sabalites and Pandanites.