Surprisingly, however, the newly discovered species were vegetarians.
Named Pegomastax africanus, or “thick jaw from Africa,” the new species had a short parrot-shaped beak up front, a pair of stabbing canines, and tall teeth tucked behind for slicing plants. The tall teeth in upper and lower jaws operated like self-sharpening scissors, with shearing wear facets that slid past one another when the jaws closed.
“Very rare,” admits University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno, “that a plant-eater like Pegomastax would sport sharp-edged, enlarged canines” like that of a vampire.
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Photo credit: Tyler Keillor