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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
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ScienceShot: Ancient Creature Was a Saber-Toothed Vegan
24 March 2011 2:00 pm
Saber-toothed predators are rare, but vegetarians sporting such fangs are members of an even more exclusive club. Scientists have now described one such creature, a short-snouted, tapir-sized animal known as Tiarajudens eccentricus. The so-called therapsid, a close relative of the creatures that eventually gave rise to mammals, lived about 260 million years ago in an arid region of what is now Brazil. It had molarlike teeth suitable for grinding a fibrous diet of ferns, leaves, and stems. But unlike most of its vegetarian kin, Tiarajudens also sported sturdy saber-like teeth that measured at least 12 centimeters long (part of the species’ name translates as “unusual tooth.”) Those fangs didn’t have serrations along their edges and likely weren’t used for chewing, say the paleontologists who describe Tiarajudens fossils online today in Science. Instead, they suggest, the distinctive teeth could have been used to deter predators, to spar with rivals, or as a way for individuals of the species to easily recognize their cohorts.
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