STL Science Center

STL Science Center

05 April 2016

Teeth, Tracks, and Crests

Sinosaurus has left its mark across much of China and a great deal of paleontology that has been published from China. The literal mark making is documented in trackways, though these are rare (compared to those in North America) and are not completely diagnosable. To that end, a small number of theropods are discussed whenever trackways are found. Sinosaurus has found its way into those discussions as a stand in (literally) foot model for some theropods and as a contributor to these trackways. Xing et al. 2014 discusses both of these possibilities in regard to newly discovered trackways in central China. Trace fossils of predators are typically represented either by the trackways above or by lost teeth. The benefit, to us and theropods, of lifetime tooth replacement is that we can find fossilized teeth and theropods never have to go hungry. Whenever teeth fall out, the bone that holds those teeth remodels as new teeth grow in. This loss and remodeling is the subject of a description of the process using a specimen from the Lufang Basin in Xing et al. 2013. Traumatic tooth loss and feeding are discussed in terms of the remodeling of alveolar areas of the mandible and maxillae. In terms of the crests part of the title, many descriptions of the crests of Sinosaurus have been published. The crests are discussed in a cooperative article from American, Chinese, and Canadian paleontologists that looks at the mechanical capabilities of these crests. This may sound a little odd, however, finite element analysis (FEA) to test the crest's capability to resist loads during intraspecific combat. This use of crests has been hypothesized many times, but FEA has not been used often to test the capabilities to resist mechanical loading and to test combat hypotheses.

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