What Did Dinosaurs Eat? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lindsy Frazer

Dr. Frazer has taught several college level Science courses and has a master's degree in Human Biology and a PhD in Library and Information Science.

Think about your teeth. Some are great for tearing into a burger, while others are shaped to grind up a salad. In this lesson, we will learn what dinosaur teeth tell us about what they ate long ago.

What Big Teeth You Have!

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Take a look at these teeth. Check out their shapes and sizes. What kind of foods do you think these different kinds of teeth are best for chewing?

Large, flat teeth with ridges are great for grinding up plants. Imagine placing a leaf between two teeth like the one shown in picture A and moving them back and forth. You would make leaf dust in no time!

Long, sharp, pointy teeth with jagged edges, like the one shown in picture B, are perfect for ripping and tearing into meat just like a steak knife.

While these teeth look different and are shaped to do different jobs, they both come from dinosaurs.

Dental Data

Paleontologists, scientists that study dinosaur bones, use dinosaur teeth as clues about dinosaur diets and what the dinosaurs ate.

Just like you did, paleontologists study the size and shape of dinosaur teeth to learn about what different kinds of food dinosaurs munched on long ago. By studying these prehistoric teeth, paleontologists have discovered that some dinosaurs were meat-eaters and some dinosaurs ate plants.

Meat-Eaters

When we think about dinosaurs, we usually picture a giant T. rex using its sharp teeth to snack on other dinosaurs. Dinosaurs, like the T. rex, that ate only meat are called carnivores.

Meat-eating dinosaurs usually got around on two strong legs so they could move fast to catch their prey. These dinosaurs ate lizards, eggs and other animals, including other dinosaurs.

The largest carnivorous dinosaur ever discovered is the Spinosaurus that lived in North Africa about 97 million years ago. This almost 60-foot long dinosaur could swim and ate a diet of fish meat.

Plant-Eaters

While we usually think of dinosaurs as ferocious hunters, most were actually plant-eaters, or herbivores. That's right most dinosaurs only ate plants!

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