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What is needed to ID Dinosaur Teeth and Claws


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There are a lot of submissions to identify dinosaur material and a good number do not have enough information or its the wrong type of to assist in identification.  Some posts are great.  So I've prepared this in what I'm looking for to help in this process.   


What is needed:   An accurate provenance is the most important item required to obtain an ID.   


1) USA & Canada   

  • Formation 
  • State or Province
  • County or Nearest Town   (a MUST)                  

2) Other localities

  • Country
  • Formation
  • Nearest Town, Area

3) On Jurassic Theropod teeth I need measurements and serration density shown in the illustration (CH, CBL, CBW and Density).  With Cretaceous teeth just need Crown Height - measured from the distal base to tip.  If more is required I will ask.   For herbivores All I need is CH.



4) Photos 

      Tim @Fossildude19 always post this image to get the best overall photos. 




      Additional requriements:

  • Photos need to be sharp and HD.  Out of focus images are useless
  • Avoid holding anything, use some support like the putty (what I use - Fun-Tak) or plastic holders. Tak is just a temporary support not good long term and don't press hard



  • No HANDS I do not want to see fingers in any photos.  Your hands shake and fingers hide some of the specimen.  There are a few exceptions when photographing the base of the tooth or articulation surface of a claw.
  • No OBTUSE photos unless asked for.  All straight in shots
  • On Theropod Teeth these are examples of the ONLY 4 photos needed to start.  With herbivore teeth I just need one image of both sides.


           Both Sides






           Mesial Carina



May require an angle view to see distal characteristics like texture, undulations, blood grooves BUT not needed at first.



I may require a close up of the serrations to see the shape of the denticles.  If you plan to be a long term collector I do recommend purchasing a Digital USB microscope.  They are relatively inexpensive and go a long way to help in identification.   Otherwise sharp HD closeup photos would be needed.  Not needed initially.







For Claws I just need 5 photos, straight in shots, no obtuse angles.   Length measurement


Examples of all sides needed and measurement (red line) - I use putty under the claw to make it square to the camera lens











Reminder just because all the information is provided it does not guarantee an ID especially from material outside of the US and Canada.



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  • Fossildude19 pinned this topic

Pinned! Thanks for doing this, Frank.

Hopefully, it will streamline the ID process for these items.

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  • 4 months later...

Great information. Is there a chart that can help determine the tooth on our own or is there too many variables and requires an expert to identify? 

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3 hours ago, CEP said:

Great information. Is there a chart that can help determine the tooth on our own or is there too many variables and requires an expert to identify? 


Not really, it can get quite difficult on some isolated teeth outside North America.  I've created a number of topics that can help a bit, see attached



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  • 10 months later...

very very helpful, thanks, Frank, for doing this. We often think about how to measure tooth and claws correctly and did it nearly the same way. Not 100%, place to measure the denticles was different, but we will use now your suggestion!


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  • 4 weeks later...

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