Nigersaurus, meaning “Niger lizard”, is a genus of diplodocoid dinosaur from the Middle Cretaceous Period (during the Aptian or Albian age between 119 to 99 million years ago). It was first described by Paul Sereno and his colleagues in 1999. It was discovered in the Elrhaz Formation in the Niger Republic by Philippe Taquet in 1976.
This sauropod had a short neck, much shorter than other sauropods. Despite being a stocky dinosaur, Nigersaurus reached a length of 29.5 feet. It was still smaller than most sauropods in its family. It was similar in appearance to the closely related Rebbachisaurus. It had a spinal ridge running down the back, although not as pronounced as the Rebbachisaurus.
Nigersaurus was a plant-eating dinosaur with an unusual mouth structure. It was shaped like the wide intake slot of a vacuum. It took in food and chewed it with its hundred plus small, sharp teeth. The teeth structure found in Nigersaurus, had previously only been known to exist in hadrosaur and ceratopsian dinosaurs. This discovery shows that at least one sauropod family (Rebbachisaurus) had them as well.
This dinosaur was not widely known until 2005, due to the delicate bone structure and construction of the skull. Despite this, it was a fairly common genus. Its skull and possible feeding adaptations were first described in detail in 2005. In 2007, more facts were published on its unique anatomy. A study of the inner ear shows that the Nigersaurus head was oriented downwards and was suited mostly for low level vegetation browsing.