Science says Tyrannosaurus rex had unique steak knife-like serrated teeth

Gorgosaurus using its specialized teeth for feeding on a young Corythosaurus in Alberta, 75 million years ago. Image: Painting by Danielle Dufault

A unique, deeply serrated tooth structure was partly the reason why Tyrannosaurus rex and friends who rampage in movies such as Jurassic World were so successful.

The tooth design, much like steak knives, allowed them to easily tear through the flesh and bone of other dinosaurs, according to the latest research from the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM).

Kirstin Brink, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Biology, and her colleagues determined that this saw-like tooth structure is uniquely common to carnivorous theropods such as T. rex and Allosaurus.

“What is so fascinating to me is that all animal teeth are made from the same building blocks, but the way the blocks fit together to form the structure of the tooth greatly affects how that animal processes food,” Brink says.

“The hidden complexity of the tooth structure in theropods suggests that they were more efficient at handling prey than previously thought, likely contributing to their success.”

Other extinct animals had teeth superficially similar but it was the special arrangement of tissues inside the tooth which strengthened and improved the function of the teeth.

The deep serrations made them more efficient at chomping on bones and ripping flesh of larger animals and helped them to prosper for about 165 million years.

The only reptile living today with the same superficial tooth structure is the Komodo dragon in Indonesia.

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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