10 of the Craziest Discoveries of 2012

A Fanged Dwarf Dinosaur
In 2012, scientists identified a new type of plant-eating dinosaur with teeth that worked like self-sharpening scissors. iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Not all dinosaurs were enormous creatures. Researchers identified a 2-foot-long (0.6-meter) heterodontosaur, P. africanus, that was running around the earth 200 million years ago, living along forested rivers. The pint-sized creature sported quills and a blunt beak, giving it a bird-like appearance. It also had fangs. Yet these little guys weren't out to kill prey. They were plant-eaters, reserving their chompers for self-defense and foraging [source: Dell'Amore].

Interestingly, the finding of a new heterodontosaur species wasn't considered that unusual. What was more surprising was the ensuing discovery that P. africanus had an advanced jaw structure that allowed its choppers to neatly cut plants because the upper and lower jaws worked like self-sharpening scissors. The new dino species was identified from some fossils that had been collected in the 1960s in South Africa, but had been sitting around Harvard University gathering dust [source: Dell'Amore].

More to Explore