Home archaeology How Much Force Is in a T. Rex Bite? Enough to Explode...

How Much Force Is in a T. Rex Bite? Enough to Explode Bones

While Tyrannosaurus rex may have been laughed at for its small, wimpy arms, its massive jaws and teeth made up for them. Now, paleontologists have worked out just how much force came with its bite — and it’s nothing to laugh at!

According to a new study, the giant Tyrannosaurus rex pulverized bones by biting down with forces equaling the weight of three small cars, while simultaneously generating world record tooth pressures. T. rex has always been recognized as a formidable creature; however, with the new data, it’s now clear that the giant carnivore bit harder than experts had thought.

Paleontologist François Therrien told The Washington Post that T. rex was far from the average dinosaur, saying:

T. rex could pulverize bones, which is known as extreme osteophagy. It is typically seen in living carnivorous mammals such as wolves and hyenas, although reptiles whose teeth do not allow for chewing up bones are unable too.

Jaw muscles in Tyrannosaurus rex that helped it generate 8,000-pound bite forces and an astounding 431,000 pounds per square inch of bone-failing tooth pressures. (Image: via Florida State University )
Jaw muscles in Tyrannosaurus rex that helped it generate its 8,000-pound bite forces and an astounding 431,000 pounds per square inch of bone-failing tooth pressures. (Image: Florida State University )

Florida State University Professor of Biological Science Gregory Erickson and Paul Gignac, assistant professor of Anatomy and Vertebrate Paleontology at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, published their findings in Scientific Reports.

What was found is that the prehistoric reptile could crush its prey with a jaw-dropping 7,800 pounds of force. This is more than twice the bite force of the largest living crocodiles, which are today’s bite force titleholders.

And that’s not all; their long, conical teeth could produce an astonishing 431,000 pounds per square inch (195,498 kg per square inch) of tooth pressure. Erickson explained in a statement:

Having both of these pressures allowed T. rex to drive open cracks in bone during repetitive, mammal-like biting, and produce high-pressure fracture arcades, which would have led to catastrophic explosions of some bones.

Gignac said in a statement:

Using their extensive experience testing and modeling how the musculature of living crocodilians (the closest relatives of dinosaurs) contribute to bite forces, and then comparing the results with birds (the modern-day dinosaurs), they were able to generate a model for T. rex.

Some may be surprised with the results, as the overall force estimates are lower than other researchers have predicted. Erickson believes that his numbers are conservative; however, they are more accurate, as they’re based on scaling forces up from the muscles of crocodiles, a close living relative.

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Troy Oakes
Troy was born and raised in Australia and has always wanted to know why and how things work, which led him to his love for science. He is a professional photographer and enjoys taking pictures of Australia's beautiful landscapes. He is also a professional storm chaser where he currently lives in Hervey Bay, Australia.

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