Duckbilled dinosaurs dined with an unusual bite

Duckbilled dinosaurs—hadrosaurs, the most common plant-eaters of their time—chewed their food differently from any animal alive today.

Using an electron scanning microscope, researchers were able to examine minute scratches on individual dino teeth made by daily wear and tear 65 million to 68 million years ago to test competing theories about how the creatures may have munched.

Unlike most animals, which have a complex joint on the lower jaw, these dinosaurs had a hinge between the upper jaw and the rest of the skull to allow for much more movement than many of their peers had. The tiny scratches show that when they chomped down on food—likely cattails and other low vegetation—the upper jaw would be forced outward, sliding teeth sideways across those in the lower jaw. This motion, combined with up, down, front and back movements, would shred and grind fibrous plant material that made up their diets.

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