Curriculum Collections: What Teeth Tell us

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Centosaurus head fossil

ERN Item Type: 

  • Classroom Activities


American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)


In the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History, robotic dinosaur skulls demonstrate how the dental adaptations of plant-eating dinisaurs worked. They show that as teeth wore down, new teeth grew to replace them. Paleontologists can tell a lot from the size of a dinosaur's skull and from the teeth in it. If the skull has powerful jaws and long, sharp teeth, then the dinosaur was most probably a meat-eater, a carnivore. The teeth were used to rip apart meat. Wide, flat teeth with ridges indicate that the dinosaur was a plant-eater, a herbivore. The teeth were used to mash and grind tough vegetation. This activity will introduce students to teeth and help them differentiate between the teeth of meat-eaters and plant-eaters.

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