U of C Professor Finds Fanged Dinosaur Species - NBC Chicago

U of C Professor Finds Fanged Dinosaur Species

The teeth of Pegomastax africanus worked as self-sharpening scissors, paleontologist says



    Time Lapse: New Dinosaur Reconstruction

    A new species of plant-eating dinosaur with tiny, 1-inch-long jaws has come to light in South African rocks dating to the early dinosaur era, some 200 million years ago. (Published Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012)

    Honey badger might give a care about this guy.

    A “punk-sized” dinosaur with sharp, vampire-like fangs and spiky bristles covering its body has been discovered by a University of Chicago professor and paleontologist from fossils mined in southern Africa back in the 1960s.

    Paul Sereno reported finding the new species, which he says existed 200 million years ago, in a collection of fossils at Harvard University, according to the University of Chicago. Sereno's findings are published in the online journal ZooKeys.

    Called Pegomastax africanus, or “thick jaw from Africa,” the long-lost dino is described as a herbivore weighing less than a house cat.

    But this isn't a cat you'd want curled up on your bed. Sereno said its tall teeth in the upper and lower jaw worked as self-sharpening scissors, making it easy to slice plants and snap up fruit.

    Its skull looked like that of a parrot and measured less than 3 inches long. Its body was less than 2 feet in length, and Sereno said the bristles made it look like a “nimble, two-legged porcupine.”

    “Very rare that a plant-eater like Pegomastax would sport sharp-edged, enlarged canines,” Sereno  said in his study. 

    Sereno says self-defense and competitive sparring for mates may have been part of the dino's role. And though it no one knew about them today, he calls Pegomastax and their kin "the most advanced plant-eaters of their day.”