Dinosaurs Named for their Teeth II

Whether they were extremely jagged or they had an odd-shaped tooth, some dinosaurs received their names because of the teeth that a paleontologist had come across. For example, the Microdontosaurus was given its named because the lizard had tiny teeth. Its name translated into ‘tiny-tooth lizard. All of the dinosaurs mentioned in this article received their names because of their choppers.


The Heterodontosaurus (meaning ‘different-tooth lizard’) lived from the late Triassic to the early Jurassic period ”“ about 208 to 200 million years ago. The dinosaur was small (about the same size as a turkey) and possessed a lightweight body ”“ weighing about 42 pounds. The fossil specimen of the dinosaur was located in South Africa, where it was later given a name by Alan J. Charig and Alfred W. Crompton in 1962.

It was the three different types of teeth that the creature possessed which led to its naming. Each was specialized to handle a different action, such as biting, grinding, and tearing its food. The front upper teeth were sharp and cut through the food as it used its beak to bite. The cheek teeth helped grind the food. Some believe that the dinosaur also stored food in its cheek pouches. The Heterodontosaurus was an herbivore, which meant that its diet consisted of plant material.

Other physical characteristics of the species was hands with five clawed fingers, three-toed feet with claws, long back legs, and a long, stiff tail.


The Hypsilophodon (which translates into ‘high-ridged tooth’) was a relatively small dinosaur that lived during the early Cretaceous Period, which was around 125 to 120 million years ago. The dinosaur moved on two legs and was quite fast. It was equipped with slender legs and a stiff tail that helped the creature keep its balance when running. However, it was the teeth of the dinosaur that inspired its name. The Hypsilophodon had a beak consisting of horn with cheek pouches filled with 28 to 30 self-sharpening cheek teeth that fitted inside a small skull. Other characteristics of the Hypsilophodon include a strong jaw, large eyes, hands with five fingers, and feet with four toes ”“ each foot decorated with a hind claw on one toe.


The Troodon (whose name translates into ‘wounding tooth’) was a bipedal dinosaur with long legs that was the same size as a human. Equipped with sharp teeth and long slender jaws, the creature was able to tear apart its meat diet. Troodon teeth had serrated edges that allowed the creature to slash and tear apart anything it came across. It also had low clawed fingers that made it easy to grasp their prey. The lightweight body structure of the dinosaur allowed it to reach a decent speed. It used its long slender, hind legs (much like a bird) to move and a stiff tail to keep its balance. Other characteristics of the dinosaur included large eyes, good sense of hearing, and a large, sickle-shaped toe claw located on its second toe.

The dinosaur is comparable to the intelligence of a modern bird. While it had a small body, it still had the largest brain in proportion to its body weight. The Troodon lived during the late Cretaceous period, which was around 76 to 70 million years ago. In 1855, Ferdinand V. Hayden discovered the Troodon, but it was Joseph Leidy that gave the dinosaur its name in 1856. Fossils of the lizard have been found in Montana, Wyoming, and the Alberta, Canada.