The Tyrannosaurus Rex Bite was the Most Powerful Bite to Ever Exist
It’s official. The most powerful bite that ever existed was the Tyrannosaurus rex bite. Generating a bite force of up to 13,000 Pounds (or 57 000 Newtons), it is three and a half times greater than the bite of the Great White Shark, which generates 3 600 Pounds (or 1.8 Tons). This new research, published in the Royal Society journal ‘Biology Letters’ by Dr Karl Bates of Liverpool University, shows that T.rex could close its jaws with four times more force than previously thought. It places T. rex up there as one of the world’s most dangerous predatory animals of all time.
Computer Generations Aid in Estimating the Tyrannosaurus Rex Bite
Dr Bates, a musculoskeletal biologist, and his researchers, generated computer models of the jaw of T. rex. Since musculature does not preserve with fossil remains, researchers only have skeletal remains available to study bite mechanics. This leads scientists to use indirect methods such as statistical analyses, and comparisons to skeletons of extant species with varying shapes and size, which makes it difficult to gain objective insights into the capabilities of T. rex. The research team built on current knowledge of the T. rex skeleton as well as past methods of analysis to generate a computer model that took into account major physiological and anatomical factors involved with bite performance.
Tyrannosaurus Rex Bite Pressure Increased with Age
Not surprisingly, this research showed that biting force increased as an individual T. rex grew bigger, which made progressively larger dinosaur species available as prey. As size increased the animal would move more slowly, hence its forelimbs would become relatively smaller, and its head larger. This would have allowed it to hunt and kill animals that were even larger than itself, e.g. armoured dinosaurs and Triceratops, to supply sustenance to its own large body.
Dr Bates and his research team also generated models that scaled up a number of types of skull to the relative size of a fully-grown T. rex, such as a human, an alligator, a T. rex juvenile and an Allosaurus. The bite force increased in each case, but never to the same extent as the adult Tyrannosaurus Rex bite. This feeds into the long-standing debate surrounding the actual power of the T. rex jaw. Some researchers believe that it had a less powerful bite, more suited to life as a scavenger, while others believe that life as a predator was made possible by a very powerful bite.
Comparing the Tyrannosaurus Rex Bite and an African Lion
When compared to the bite of a fully-grown African lion (i.e. 1 235 Pounds of force), the T. rex model generates nearly fifty times more force by a single tooth in the back of its mouth. With a measured force of 5 000 Pounds (22 000 Newtons), the Nile crocodile has the second most powerful bite and, as such, comes closest to T. rex of all living animals. Then comes the Great White, but comparing terrestrial and aquatic species does not have much merit. The bite of T. rex was shown to be powerful both in actual terms, as well as in relative terms to its body size.
Another aspect that was studied is the juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex bite. When extrapolated in terms of size, the model of the juvenile skull was shown to have a relatively weaker bite than the adult, which means that young T. rex may have altered their feeding behaviour with age. This is evident from the shape of the juvenile skull, which is lower and has a longer snout. With ageing, this skull would expand to allow a larger space for the jaw to close. The proportions of the T. rex body also changed with maturity; biochemical evidence shows that youngsters had a more athletic build than mature individuals.
A young T. rex had a bite force similar to that of lion and alligators which, in tandem with relatively long fore- and hindlimbs, made it possible to chase after and catch prey of small to medium size. The relative size of the forelimbs decreased with maturity, which points to adult T. rex relying more on a large skull for hunting. This implies a phase of exponential growth in the skull, which already had a highly efficient biting mechanism, and suggests that feeding behaviour changed between young and adult stages.
Bite Force was an Evolutionary Adaptation
Our knowledge of extant carnivores shows that those that have large prey also have relatively large biting force, while those that feed on small prey animals have relatively moderate biting force. This means that the force of the bite may be a crucial adaptation in carnivore evolution, in terms of varying feeding ecology.
To become a specialist on large prey, T. rex had to reach adult body size and possess an adapted jaw anatomy that gave superior mechanical strength. This would have avoided competition with younger T. rex and other competitors that had smaller bodies and greater agility.
According to Dr Bates, the unique musculoskeletal system of T. rex as examined in his Tyrannosaurus Rex bite study will provide a fascination to scientists for many years to come.