Ontogeny reveals function and evolution of the hadrosaurid dinosaur dental battery

hadrosaur teeth model
Monday, August 29, 2016 - 9:08am

There is nothing duck-like in the maw of Duck-billed Dinosaurs (hadrosaurs), according to the research of UTM Biology’s newest Ph.D. – Dr. Aaron Leblanc (Reisz Lab). Aaron just published “Ontogeny reveals function and evolution of the hadrosaurid dinosaur dental battery” in BMC Evolutionary Biology.This is the first in-depth look inside the dental batteries of hadrosaurs. Like many plant-eating mammals that have very complex grinding teeth for dealing with tough plant material, hadrosaurs evolved an impressive battery of teeth on each side of the jaw. Each battery is made of multiple stacks of interlocked teeth that behaved like a single giant grinding surface, but could be made of over 300 individual teeth fused together with a flexible network of ligaments! Using thin slices of the dental batteries they discovered that these animals did not actually replace their teeth in the typical reptile fashion. In hadrosaurs, each tooth constantly migrated towards the chewing surface, making room for new ones at the bottom of the battery. Once they reached the grinding edge of the battery, the teeth were eventually completely ground down. Aaron’s discoveries about hadrosaur dental batteries make it one of the most complex chewing systems known to date.