Research

Motor mouth: T. rex could bite with the force of three cars

Motor mouth: T. rex could bite with the force of three cars

That's because the T. Rex had a bite force of about 8,000 pounds, or 3,600 kg, while its long conical teeth could generate bone-crushing pressure of 431,000 pounds per square inch (PSI), or almost 3 million kilopascals, according to the calculations of researchers from Florida State University and Oklahoma State University in the US.

On February 12, 1873 paleontologist Barnum Brown was born in Carbondale, Kansas. And now scientists know why.

According to a new study, the famed Tyrannosaurus rex had quite the bite.

Their computer modeling was developed and tested on alligators, with the researchers studying how each muscle contributed to the bite force. It's a scene that crystallized the destructive power of this extinct apex predator in the public consciousness-and as a new study highlights, it might not have been that hyperbolic.

The process is slightly different for carnivorous dinosaurs, as they were characterized by having vast lateral teeth, sometimes over 6 inches long in the case of the T. rex. The splintering bones would likely sometimes explode out of the the giant reptile's mouth.

"In this study, we show that Tyrannosaurus rex is the exception, and we sought to explain how this was possible", Gignac told Live Science in an email.

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By comparison, a crocodile's bite force measures about 3,700 pounds, and a human's jaws can chomp with an impressive 200 pounds. Actually, T. rex's bite was far more devastating than that.

When compared to modern reptilians, the T. rex appears to have teeth that just seem to be too large, whose functionality appears to be closer to how wolves and hyenas use their teeth in a repetitive biting motion to crush the bones of its prey.

After studying birds and crocodilians, the scientists realized that it wasn't just strong jaw muscles that allowed the might beast to destroy bone. "[T-Rex's] tooth pressures, which are more important than bite forces with regard to feeding capacities are however the highest estimated (to date) for any animal".

The T. rex's teeth inflict an even bigger damage. Channeling the force, a Tyrannosaurus bite could impart as much as 431,000 pounds per square inch (psi), which helped the animal pulverize the bones of its prey to give it a nutritional advantage over other predators of its day. The creature's conical teeth could grow to be several inches long and were replaced every two years. "For example, the upper jaw alone had more than 30 teeth".

"The risk is the potential to accrue extreme tooth damage from biting into bone, making it hard or impossible to capture prey effectively or rupture the long bones of carcasses".

"It was this bone-crunching acumen that helped T. rex to more fully exploit the carcasses of large horned-dinosaurs and duck-billed hadrosaurids whose bones, rich in mineral salts and marrow, were unavailable to smaller, less equipped carnivorous dinosaurs", says Paul Gignac, assistant professor of Anatomy and Vertebrate Paleontology at Oklahoma State.