An adult Tyrannosaurus rex has the most powerful bite of any terrestrial animal suggests a new computer model.
Previous research has estimatde that the T rex’s bite had a force of 8,000 to 13,400 Newtons, but researchers suspected that it may actually be more than this.
So a team from the University of Liverpool artificially scaled up the skulls of a human, an alligator, a juvenile T. rex and Allosaurus to the size of an adult T. rex. They then developed a computer model to reverse engineer the animal’s bite – a method that has previously been used to predict dinosaur running speed.
“To build in previous methods of analysis, we took what we knew about T. rex from its skeleton and built a computer model that incorporated the major anatomical and physiological factors that determine bite performance,” said Dr Karl Bates from the Department of Musculoskeletal Biology.
“We then asked the computer model to produce a bite so that we could measure the speed and force of it directly. We compared this to other animals of smaller body mass and also scaled up smaller animals to the size of T. rex to compare how powerful it was.”
An animal’s bite is determined largely by the size of the jaw muscles, but because muscle does not survive with the fossil, researchers tested a range of muscle values and factored in errors. Even so, the model showed the T. rex had a more powerful bite than previously thought. The smallest values suggested were around 20,000 Newtons, with the largest around 57,000 Newtons.
“Our results show that the T. rex had an extremely powerful bite, making it one of the most dangerous predators to have roamed our planet,” said Bates. “It’s unique musculoskeletal system will continue to fascinate scientists for years to come.”
Separate research in America has discovered that – beyond the obvious difference in the size of teeth – there is a considerable difference in the serrated edges of a T. rex‘s teeth. These varying edges enabled the dinosaur’s strong teethe to cut through flesh and bone, while the placement and angle of the teeth directed food into it’s mouth.