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Archaeologists discover saber-toothed vegetarian

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 24, 2011; 3:22 PM

WASHINGTON -- Surprised scientists have discovered the remains of a saber-toothed vegetarian. Researchers report that the leaf-crunching animal lived 260 million years ago in what is now Brazil. It was about the size of a large dog and had nearly 5-inch long canine teeth.

The research team notes that large saber-shaped canine teeth are unexpected in a plant-eating animal. They say the enormous teeth may have been for self-defense or for battling for territory or females.

The creature is known as Tiarajudens eccentricus (tee-AH-ruh-HOO-denz ek-SIN-trik-us).

The researchers report on their discovery in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

© 2011 The Associated Press