The Vegetarian Saber-Toothed Dinosaur!

Life reconstruction of the head of Tiarajudens eccentricus from the Permian of BrazilPhoto: Eurekalert

Tiarajudens eccentricus is the name of a newly discovered dinosaur whose fossil was found in Brazil. It has teeth that look as if they have been replaced, but backwards, as well as two long canines like a saber-toothed tiger’s. Add the fact that it was a vegetarian, so really shouldn’t have needed those saber teeth, and bizarre is a word that fits this dinosaur’s description very well.

Photograph of the skull of Tiarajudens eccentricus.Photo: Eurekalert

The fossil is 260 million years old and belongs to a group of animals that were precursors to mammals. The discovery, made by Juan Carlos Cisneros and others at the Universidade Federal do Piauí, Ininga, also found “some of the earliest evidence of therapsid dental occlusion – where top and bottom teeth fit together for an efficient chew,” according to the journal, Science.

Life reconstruction of Tiarajudens eccentricus, displaying saber-teeth to prevent approach of a carnivorous dinocephalian.Photo: Eurekalert

It’s believed the dinosaur with the toothy grin actually used the saber teeth to scare predators off, rather like musk deer do today, and during breeding season it is likely they confronted other males with the long teeth as well. Another piece of our evolutionary puzzle to be wondered over!