Guest Author - Alice Rienzo
In 1940’s, deep in the country of Niger, paleontologists found a new type of plant-eating dinosaur. A plant-eating dinosaur is called an herbivore. They named the dinosaur they found, Nigersaurus (NEE-zhair-SAWR-us) taqueti because they found it in Niger by a man named Philippe Taquet and because it has the same qualities as other sauropods. Sauropods are known for their lizard-hipped bodies. In short, Nigersaurus means “Niger Lizard.”
Researchers believe the Nigersaurus lived during the Aptian and Albian Ages that occurred more than 99 million years ago. The Aptian and Albian Ages are sections of time in the Cretaceous Period. The types of living creatures that lived during this time were birds, crocodiles, dinosaurs and fish.
They really did not know what special qualities this sauropod had, until they began to put together all the pieces they had found, which has been about 80% of the body. Since then, the paleontologists learned that the dinosaur did not just eat plants, it vacuumed up food off the forest’s floor. The dino kept its head down low and could suck up most anything within reach, just as cows do today. Given its size, it could have mowed down entire fields without taking a step. They found out that the elephant-sized dino most likely ate ferns and horsetails.
The Nigersaurus was 30 feet long. Its head was small and square. The skull bones were petite and thin. The Nigersaurus had a long neck and four legs. It also had 50 columns and 8 rows of tiny teeth inside a square-like jaw. When a tooth fell out of its mouth, another one would roll forward to take its place within a month. The dino could have won the Guinness record for rapid rate of tooth replacement.
A model of the dinosaur can be seen at the National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall in Washington D.C. through March 18, 2008.
To learn more about the dinosaur visit Project Exploration