by Ali Berman
Categories: Science.

There aren’t many dinosaurs researchers describe as potential good pets, but the Pegomastax africanus, despite its vampire-like teeth, was about the same size as housecat. Thankfully, much smaller than the famous Tyrannosaurus rex or the other scary carnivores we usually imagine roaming the earth.

They are described as being about 2 feet long, covered in quills and pecking at their food with a parrot-like beak. Paleontologist Paul Sereno said it must have looked like a “strange little bird.” Though they had fangs, they were used for foraging for food and defending itself from predators much like those of a fanged deer. They lived in the forests near rivers in southern Africa about 200 million years ago.

One part of the study of these creatures that impressed others in the field was Sereno’s work on the creature’s teeth. National Geographic reports, “The researcher suggested too that the cheek teeth in P. africanus’ upper and lower jaws worked like self-sharpening scissors for shearing plant parts.”

Sereno also joked about the dinosaur, “it would be a nice pet—if you could train it not to nip you.” We’re pretty sure the little herbivores were happier out foraging for food than being turned into a prickly lap cat, but it is fun to imagine sharing your home with a dinosaur.

Photo Credit: National Geographic and Tyler Keillor

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

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