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Steak-Knife Teeth Evolved First In Land Animals 300M Years Ago

Update Date: Feb 08, 2014 03:49 PM EST

The Dimetrodon - a carnivorous dinosaur that roamed on Earth nearly 300 million years ago - was the first terrestrial vertebrate to develop the "steak-knife" teeth. 

According to the findings of the study, the ancient reptile was not afraid to bite off more than it could chew. 

Researchers found that Dimetrodon was the first carnivorous dinosaur that developed serrated ziphodont teeth. 

"Technologies such as scanning electron microscope (SEM) and histology allowed us to examine these teeth in detail to reveal previously unknown patterns in the evolutionary history of Dimetrodon," Kirstin Brink, of the University of Toronto Mississauga's Department of Biology, said in a statement.

Researchers said the vicious teeth enabled Dimetrodon to have more-efficient bite and helped it in taking down the prey that was much larger than itself.

"This research is an important step in reconstructing the structure of ancient complex communities," Robert Reisz, a professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga's Department of Biology, according to RedOrbit. "Teeth tell us a lot more about the ecology of animals than just looking at the skeleton."

Reisz added that the study allowed scientists to piece together how members of the ancient animals interacted. 

The study also pointed a possibility of the dinosaur being the forerunner of mammals as it was at the top of the food chain.

"The steak knife configuration of these teeth and the architecture of the skull suggest Dimetrodon was able to grab and rip and dismember large prey," Reisz added. "Teeth fossils have attracted a lot of attention in dinosaurs but much less is known about the animals that lived during this first chapter in terrestrial evolution."

The study is published in the Nature Communications

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