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Part of the Dinosaurs: Activities and Lesson Plans Curriculum Collection.
Activity for Grades 5–8
In the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History, robotic dinosaur skulls demonstrate how the various dental adaptations of plant-eating dinosaurs worked. They show how 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. The teeth provide the best clues as to what dinosaurs ate. Some dinosaurs, like Apatosaurus, had long, rake-like teeth. They used their teeth to strip leaves off branches. Tyrannosaurus rex had sharp, knife-like teeth. It used them to rip meat off its prey and swallow it whole. Triceratops had a whole battery of sharp teeth that it used to slice plants. Other dinosaurs, such as Hadrosaurs, had whole batteries of grinding teeth used to grind up plants.
This activity will show students the kinds of information that studying teeth can provide.