The prehistoric predator Tyrannosaurus rex is infamous for its larger-than-life chompers. But exactly how powerful was T. rex’s bite? Dr. Karl Bates from the University of Liverpool claims to know. Bates worked with Peter Falkingham from the University of Manchester to determine the power of Tyrannosaurus’ bite using computer simulation. The two scanned a T. rex skull fossil into a computer, then manipulated its “jaw muscles” to close, measuring the force on a digital pressure sensor. They found that jaws of the mighty dino snapped shut with a force of 30,000-60,000 Newtons, approximately equal to the weight of an elephant and more than 4 times the previous estimate. By comparison, the fish with the strongest bite yet discovered (estimated in 2006), the 400-million-year-old Devonian-aged Dunkleosteus terrelli, had a jaw force of only 5,000 Newtons. The force of one of the strongest living animals, a modern hyena, weighs in at a mere 2,000 Newtons. Bates and Falkingham’s new estimate puts T. rex at the top of the list of most powerful bites—and perhaps the strongest bite power of any animal in the history of Earth.

Read more about T. rex at BBC Nature.
Compare Dunkleosteus at BBC News from 2006.

Find the original T. rex article in the online journal PLoS ONE.
The original Dunkleosteus article was published by Anderson & Westneat in Biology Letters in 2007.

Published On: March 22, 2012

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