It is really amazing when you think how long ago it was that dinosaurs dominated life on this planet. While there are a number of “eras” that the dinosaurs lived, we know that they died out literally millions of years ago. And yet to this day, fossils survive and are discovered to be excavated by paleontologists and archeologists to put them on display in our museums. But fossils are not just used for display. Scientists get vital information about the size of the dinosaurs, what they ate and how they lived and died. All of that can be understood simply by studying the fossils of dinosaurs long dead.
The detective work that paleontologists use to draw conclusions about what dinosaurs looked like and how they lived is pretty impressive. To be able to get so much information from the teeth and bones of an animal is truly amazing. In fact, fossils of dinosaur teeth are probably the most informative clues about all kinds of facts concerning the dinosaur who once had that tooth in his mouth. A tooth can tell a scientist a lot about the mouth of the dinosaur, which can tell him crucial details about the dinosaur’s head, which then can provide clues about the body of the beast as well.
If you like solving mysteries, you would probably enjoy looking at a newly discovered dinosaur tooth to see what you could conclude just from that one piece of evidence. Scientific experts on dinosaurs are so well informed about the teeth of these extinct species that they would make pretty good dinosaur dentists if one dropped by. A sample tooth from the mouth of a dinosaur, for example, can tell a paleontologist if the beast was a meat eater or a vegetarian. The teeth for killing and tearing flesh are completely different from the teeth for chewing leaves off of trees.
The construction of the tooth fossil from an ancient animal will have a certain shape that shows how it fit in the mouth of the dinosaur. Whether the tooth angled back or straight down tells a scientists a lot about how that particular dinosaur used his mouth in daily life. It also gives plenty of information to that dinosaur dentist about the shape of the jaw and how it fit with the other jaw. That design implies the shape of the head as well and from those clues, lots of information can be concluded about the dinosaur in general and what its daily life was like.
If you have ever looked at a “picture” or model of a dinosaur and wondered how scientists could know what these monsters looked like, this process of studying fossils is their way of coming to that conclusion. They don’t have photos to work from or eyewitness accounts to use to gather this information. And yet with a fair degree of accuracy and agreement between many scientists who specialize in studying dinosaurs, we do have reliable images of the world of the dinosaurs and how they lived in their world. That is pretty amazing information when you think about it. But you can thank those dinosaur dentists for being smart enough to figure it out for the rest of us.