Nigersaurus – Dinosaur with 500 teeth

Nigersaurus is a genus of rebbachisaurid sauropod dinosaur that lived during the middle Cretaceous period, about 115 to 105 million years ago. It was discovered in the Elrhaz Formation in an area called Gadoufaoua, in the Republic of Niger. Fossils of this dinosaur were first described in 1976, but it was only named Nigersaurus taqueti in 1999, after further and more complete remains were found and described. The genus name means “Niger reptile”, and the specific name honours the French palaeontologist Philippe Taquet, who discovered the first remains.

What dinosaur has 500 teeth?

Nigersaurus was 9 metres (30 feet) long, which is small for a sauropod, and had a short neck. It weighed around four tonnes, comparable to a modern elephant. Its skeleton was highly pneumatised (filled with air spaces connected to air sacs), but the limbs were robustly built. Its skull was very specialised for feeding, with large fenestrae and thin bones. It had a wide muzzle filled with more than 500 teeth, which were replaced at a rapid rate: around every 14 days. The jaws may have borne a keratinous  sheath. Unlike other tetrapods, the tooth-bearing bones of its jaws were rotated transversely relative to the rest of the skull, so that all of its teeth were located far to the front.

Nigersaurus Reconstructed skeleton in Japan
Reconstructed skeleton in Japan

The closest relatives of Nigersaurus are grouped within the subfamily  Nigersaurinae of the family Rebbachisauridae, which is part of the sauropod superfamily Diplodocoidea. Nigersaurus was probably a browser, and fed with its head close to the ground. The region of its brain that detected smell was underdeveloped, although its brain size was comparable to that of other dinosaurs. There has been debate on whether its head was habitually held downwards, or horizontally like other sauropods. It lived in a riparian habitat, and its diet probably consisted of soft plants, such as ferns, horsetails, and angiosperms. It is one of the most common fossil vertebrates found in the area, and shared its habitat with other dinosaurian megaherbivores, as well as large theropods  and  crocodylomorphs.

Like all sauropods, Nigersaurus was a megafaunal quadruped with a small head, thick hind legs, and a prominent tail. Among that clade,  Nigersaurus was fairly small, with a body length of only 9 m (30 ft) and a femur reaching only 1 m (3 ft 3 in). It may have weighed around four tonnes, comparable to a modern elephant. It had a short neck for a sauropod, with thirteen cervical vertebrae. Nearly all rebbachisaurids had relatively short necks and a length of 10 m (33 ft) or less. The only member of the family that reached the size of larger sauropods was Rebbachisaurus.

Dinosaur with 500 teeth

The skull of Nigersaurus was delicate, with the four side fenestrae (openings in the skull) larger than in other sauropodomorphs. The total area of bone connecting the muzzle to the back of the skull was only 1.0 cm2(0.16 sq in). These connecting struts of bones were usually less than 2 mm (0.08 in) thick. Despite this, the skull was resistant to the sustained shearing of the teeth. Another unique trait it had among sauropodomorphs was a closed supratemporal fenestra. The nasal openings, the bony nostrils, were elongated. Though the nasal bones are not completely known, it appears the front margin of the bony nostril was closer to the snout than in other diplodocoids. The snout was also proportionately shorter, and the tooth row was not at all prognathous, the snout tip not protruding relative to the remainder of the tooth series. The maxillary tooth row was in its entirety transversely rotated, its normal rear 90° everted towards the front. This was matched by an identical rotation of the dentary of the lower jaw. As a result, no other tetrapod had all of its teeth located as far to the front as Nigersaurus.


Nigersaurus was named and described in more detail by Sereno and colleagues only in 1999, based on remains of newly found individuals. The same article also named Jobaria, another sauropod from Niger. The genus name Nigersaurus (“Niger reptile”) is a reference to the country where it was discovered, and the specific name taqueti honours Taquet, who was the first to organise large-scale palaeontological expeditions to Niger.  The holotype specimen (MNN GAD512) consists of a partial skull and neck. Limb material and a scapula found nearby were also referred to the same specimen. These fossils are housed at the National Museum of Niger.

The remains of Nigersaurus were initially described in 1976 as belonging to a dicraeosaurid, but in 1999 Sereno’s team reclassified it as a rebbachisaurid diplodocoid. Rebbachisauridae is the basalmost family within the superfamily Diplodocoidea, which also contains the long-necked diplodocids and the short-necked dicraeosaurids. The subfamily  Nigersaurinae, which includes Nigersaurus and closely related genera, was named by John A. Whitlock in 2011.

Location of Gadoufaoua in Niger
Location of Gadoufaoua in Niger

Nigersaurus is known from the Elrhaz Formation of the Tegama Group in an area called Gadoufaoua, located in Niger. It is one of the most commonly found vertebrates in the formation. The Elrhaz Formation consists mainly of fluvial sandstones with low relief, much of which is obscured by sand dunes. The sediments are coarse- to medium-grained, with almost no fine-grained horizons. Nigersaurus lived in what is now Niger about 115 to 105 million years ago, during the Aptian and Albian ages of the mid-Cretaceous.  It likely lived in habitats dominated by inland floodplains (a riparian zone).

What dinosaur has 500 teeth?

Nigersaurus, 110 million years old dinosaur, is a 30-foot-long plant-eating dinosaur that lived 110 million years ago in what is now Niger’s Sahara Desert. Nigersaurus lived in a lush environment alongside the predatory dinosaur suchomimus, the plant eaters ouranosaurus and lurdusaurus, and supercroc. Nigersaurus had a delicate skull and an extremely wide mouth lined with teeth especially adapted for browsing plants close to the ground. This bizarre, long-necked dinosaur is characterized by its unusually broad, straight-edged muzzle tipped with more than 500 replaceable teeth. The original fossil skull of Nigersaurus is one of the first dinosaur skulls to be digitally reconstructed from CT scans.

Bizarre 500-toothed dinosaur

Our first week in the field has been spectacular! Remarkable discoveries seem to be waiting for us around every dune. On our first day, we found bones of the long-necked dinosaur Nigersaurus. Nigersaurus, you might remember, we named for bones collected on the last expedition here three years ago. This sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) has an unusual skull containing as many as 500 slender teeth. A major goal of this expedition is to find the rest of this unusual dinosaur so we can describe it and reconstruct it for everyone to see.

We are closing in on that goal fast because we came upon a skeleton a few days later! This skeleton is lying on its side with the tail curved upward. The curve of the backbone measures about 15 feet. We carefully brushed the sand off the 110 million-year-old bones and dug channels between the major areas of the skeleton. Soon we will cover each area in plaster so that the skeleton can be transported out of the field and back to the laboratory.

But that’s not all for Nigersaurus. Chris took us all to a flat area of purple-colored sandstone where he had located the upper jaw of a baby Nigersaurus—one that would fit on top of a silver dollar! This Nigersaurus was a hatchling, probably less than one year from hatching when it died and was fossilized.

A new carnivore

While walking across a very flat area, Gabe made a remarkable find—the bones of a new meat-eating dinosaur lay partially exposed at her feet. She brushed away the sand from the upper jaw. Nearby lay part of the backbone and the hip bones. This was a mean customer—the bones are from a skeleton that would measure about 30 feet long! We hope to find more evidence of this sharp-toothed creature as the field season goes on.

A huge crocodile

We are interested in finding more than just dinosaurs. We want to find all animals and plants that once lived along the ancient streams and forests 110 million years ago. One of the most common fossils we encountered in the first week of work belonged to an enormous crocodile called Sarcosuchus.

This reptile was far larger than any living crocodile. Judging from the 6-foot skull we found in the first week, we suspect it may have measured over 40 feet long! The armor plates on its back measured a foot across. We even laid out the team to get a sense of just how big this animal was.

Hans has been working with a crew of Allison and Dave to excavate a new site. As we dug around the skull, we uncovered another juvenile skull of the same species lying right next to the big one. They carved a block of rock that included both skulls, knowing full well that it would weigh around 600 pounds when encased in plaster.

Don’t Google Which Dinosaur Had 500 Teeth

Don’t Google Which Dinosaur Had 500 Teeth is a joke which spread primarily on Reddit. The Google search for “which dinosaur had 500 teeth” will lead people to search results for “Nigersaurus.” People warn against this acting as though the dinosaur’s name was a play on The N-word.


The joke began growing in late December of 2019 thanks to several posts in anti-comedy subreddits like /r/comedynecrophilia and /r/okbuddyretard. For example, Redditor LifeOnMarsden posted an example in /r/okbuddyretard on December 29th (shown below, left). User LordReggie69 posted an example in /r/memes on December 28th (shown below, right).

The joke carried into YouTube in January of 2020. User WarmerBasson69 posted a video based off the joke on January 20th, gaining over 66,000 views (shown below, left). User Izzy Tube posted a video on January 23rd, gaining over 2,200 views (shown below, right).

Nigersaurus meme

Nigersaurus meme

Source: wikipedia /

Also read: Yangchuanosaurus and Kentrosaurus

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