Tsintaosaurus spinorhinus — a chewing machine
Tsintaosaurus was a hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur, found in China. Like all hadrosaurs it had a toothless ‘bill’ and a massive battery of grinding teeth that were replaced as they wore down. This was important, as Tsintaosaurus would have eaten a variety of tough foliage, such as conifers and cycads. Tsintaosaurus was able to move on two or four legs, and generally browsed on plants closer to the ground than high in trees.
Many hadrosaurs had elaborate crests on their heads, and Tsintaosaurus seems to have been no exception. Palaeontologists have puzzled over its unusual forward-pointing ‘horn’ for years. The discoverer of the species in the 1950s described the protrusion as a ‘nasal tube’, but later researchers thought the fossilisation process might have distorted the skull. They suggested that Tsintaosaurus may have had a backward-pointing horn, like the related Saurolophus, or not have had a ‘horn’ at all. Current thinking has accepted the presence of the horn, although it is thought that it wasn’t used to produce bellowing or honking sounds, as the horn is not hollow like that of some hadrosaur crests.