Out for a bite: T. rex was the greatest chomper
The new study puts to rest the debate over whether the T. rex's jaw was more suited to scavenging or a full-blown predator.
Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Photo: Toru Yamanaka/AFP
PARIS — Scientists say they have proof that the Tyrannosaurus rex, the dinosaur adored by children and makers of plastic toys, had the most powerful bite of any creature that lived on land.
The bite of a grown T. rex was up to 10 times that of a Mississippi alligator, exerting a force of nearly six tonnes — the weight of an elephant — on a single tooth, according to a study published on Feb. 29.
The estimate comes from a 3-D computer simulation of a T. rex head, with reconstructions of its bones, jaw movement and muscle power, say University of Liverpool palaeontologists led by Karl Bates.
"Models predict that adult T. rex generated sustained bite forces of 35,000-57,000 Newtons at a single posterior tooth, by far the highest bite forces estimated for any terrestrial animal," says the paper.
By comparison, humans exert only 70 to 100 kilos (154 to 220 pounds) of force on a single tooth.
The findings could settle a long-running debate among palaeontologists.
Some have contended that the T. rex had only a modest bite, and this would have suited a scavenger that feasted on the dead or dying.
Others, though, argued that the dino's musculo-skeletal design pointed to a powerful jaw able to kill with a single bite, which meant it was definitely a predator.
The study is published by Britain's Royal Society in the journal Biology Letters.
Copyright 2012 AFP Global Edition