If duckbill dinosaurs were truly efficient shredders of tough fodder

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Although Professor Marsh of Yale clearly illustrated the real qualities of the duckbills’ chewing equipment in 1896, most paleontologists retained the mistaken theory and ignored the obvious adaptations for tough food. (China dinosaur factory)It required yet another Yale professor to set matters straight. In 1961, John Ostrom published his heretical interpretation of duckbills. He defined them as land creatures and emphasized the mechanical—ecological implications of their dental Cuisinart.

 

He pointed out that the teeth of duckbills had a pattern that virtually necessitated tough food. Their characteristic bills were also consistent with a toughfood diet, despite a superficial resemblance to the bill of modern water-feeding ducks. Way back in the 1880s, Cope had already found fossil remnants of the horny edge that had lined the bony beak of duckbill dinosaurs while alive. (dinosaur manufacturers)This horny edge was sharp and deep from top to bottom, more like the edge of a cookie-cutter than the soft, sensitive rim of a muddabbling duck. After Cope’s initial discovery, other horny fossils turned up, making it clear that all duckbills possessed deep, sharp-cutting edges along the entire upper and lower beak. Such sharp edges were obviously for cropping tough plants—not for grazing on mush. (big size dinosaur)So softbeaked ducks were never good analogues for duckbill dinosaurs, but modern tortoises are; the tortoise’s beak is tall and sharpedged, and constantly used to cut through tough blades and stems.

 

If duckbill dinosaurs were truly efficient shredders of tough fodder, they would also have required good tongue—cheek coordination. Consider what it takes to chew something as recalcitrant as a piece of celery—your tongue contributes by moving the fibrous lump between palate and teeth. Your cheeks play their role by retaining the mass of celery and preventing it from slipping. Tongue-in-cheek skill is characteristic of the best shredders among today’s Mammalia—horses, cows, elephants, rabbits, kangaroos. (lifelike dinosaur for sale)All these herbivores possess large, active tongues and strongly muscled cheeks. Incidentally, that lump of food while being chewed in the mouth has been dignified with a technical scientific label: “bolus.”