Monday, December 10, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Dinosaurs by Zack Neher (Part 3)

Part three of my Top Ten Favorite Dinosaurs list.  Enjoy!

3. Masiakasaurus
A fairly small dinosaur at only around six feet, Masakisaurus knopfleri, as discussed IN A PREVIOUS POST, was named for the famous musician Mark Knopfler.  The animal, found in Madagascar, was named in 2001 by Matthew Carrano, Catherine A. Forster, and Scott Sampson, the author of Dinosaur Odyssey and the dude from Dinosaur Train.  Living on what was still an island, the little dinosaur lived about 70 MYA during the  Late Cretaceous Period, and was a contemoporary of the abelisaur Majungasaurus, the bird-like Rahonavis, and the sauropod Rapetosaurus.  Although Masiakasaurus sounds pretty unremarkable thus far, a quick glance at the picture below (which many of you have no doubt already done) says otherwise: Masiakasaurus definitely had some funky teeth!  These teeth are clearly not suited tearing into food like the teeth of Allosaurus or Velociraptor would be, and many paleontologists (including myself, even though I am not really a paleontologist.  I guess it would be better to say "many paleontologists, paleontologists-in-training, and myself."  There, much better.) believe that these weird, pointy teeth are an evolutionary adaptation to a piscivorous (fish-based) diet.  A look at various marine reptiles such as the plesiosaurs (like Elasmosaurus) and Liopleurodon show a similar pattern of interlocking teeth that point outside of the mouth.  Excellent when it comes to catching fish, and not so excellent when it comes to most, if not all, other diets, be they meat- or plant-based.  


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