If you want to know the secret behind the success of Tyrannosaurus rex and its meat-eating dinosaur cousins, look no further than their teeth.
Scientists on Tuesday unveiled a comprehensive analysis of the teeth of the group of carnivorous dinosaurs called theropods, detailing a unique serrated structure that let them chomp efficiently through the flesh and bones of large prey.
Theropods included the largest land predators in Earth's history. They first appeared about 200 million years ago and were the dominant terrestrial meat-eaters until the age of dinosaurs ended about 65 million years ago.
The study involving eight theropod species revealed their previously unknown tooth complexity. Internal dental tissues were arranged in a way that reinforced the strength and prolonged the life of teeth that were serrated like steak knives for easy dismembering of other dinosaurs.
University of Toronto Mississauga paleontologist Kirstin Brink said fossil evidence showed that T. rex's teeth could crush bone. Its teeth have been found embedded in the bones of its prey and chunks of bone appear in its fossilized dung.
"But the serrations were most efficient for piercing flesh and gripping it while ripping off a chunk of meat, called the 'puncture and pull' feeding style," Brink said.