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Re: Moroccan dinosaur teeth



At 01:52 PM 3/5/99 +0100, Thomas Hammann wrote:

>But I still have a problem with the teeth of Spinosaurus spec. because I heard 
>of a gigantic crocodilian (Sarcosuchus spec.) that lived beside Spinosaurus in 
>the cretacous of northern africa. Is there someone who even knows the 
>differences between the teeth of a Spinosaurus and Sarcosuchus?

These can indeed be a problem: spinosaurid teeth are amazingly similar to
crocodiliform teeth (and also to the teeth of some large piscivorous fish).
Milner, Sereno, and various others have suggested that you can recognize
spinosaurid teeth by a peculiar texture on the enamel.  A recent SEM picture
of this can be seen in Fig. 2E of Sereno et al.'s paper on _Suchomimus_
(1998. Science 282:1298-1302).

However, I don't know enough about big crocs to know for certain that they
do not also have this texture (I hope they don't: it would be nice to have
*something* to distinguish between these).

As Tony Thulborn also pointed out, there are plenty of other animals out
there that have teeth similar to typical theropods: most terrestrial
predatory toothed archosaurs (rauisuchids, poposaurids, sebecid and
barusuchid crocs, etc.), primitive carnivorous synapsids like _Dimetrodon_,
and others.  If you don't have reliable locality data, you might actually
have teeth of these forms rather than of dinosaurs.

As with all things, let the buyer beware.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:tholtz@geol.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661