Which animals have the strongest bite?

The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has the highest bite force of any animal alive nowadays. (Image credit: DianaLynne by means of Getty Pictures)

Tyrannosaurus rex and megalodon are repeat science fiction stars for a explanation: Their bites had been ferocious. But which extinct and living creatures in fact exert the strongest bite force? 

Bite force, according to a study published in Frontiers (opens in new tab), is the force that the muscle tissues and bones of the upper and decrease jaw create when an animal bites. Animals with powerful bite forces generally have no challenge clamping down on struggling prey. Some predators are even in a position to break by way of prey with specifically challenging armor.

Of all the creatures alive nowadays, the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has the strongest identified bite force, at 16,460 newtons (newtons measure force magnitude), a 2012 study in the journal PLOS A single (opens in new tab) discovered. For comparison, 1 newton equals about a quarter pound of force. What ever ends up in the jaws of a saltwater crocodile is subjected to intense force through its dying gasps.

Paleobiologist Gregory M. Erickson measuring an alligator’s bite force. (Image credit: Photo by: Gregory M. Erickson by means of Florida State University)

There are two contenders that could challenge — and possibly beat — the croc, but their bite forces have not been measured in a reside setting due to the fact these animals are aquatic predators. If confirmed, the strongest bite force could be that of the orca (Orcinus orca), estimated at 84,516 newtons by the Dutch Shark Society (opens in new tab), distantly followed by the bite force of a excellent white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), at about 18,000 newtons, according to personal computer models utilised in a 2008 study published in the Journal of Zoology (opens in new tab).

Amongst extinct animals, the chomp of T. rex may possibly have been king, at a killer 35,000 newtons (opens in new tab) when it stomped the Earth from about 68 million to 66 million years ago. The massive shark Megalodon (Otodus megalodon) terrorized the seas from 15 million to three.six million years ago with a bite force of up to 182,200  newtons (opens in new tab). Nevertheless, there are nonetheless inquiries about whether or not the shark could beat out the dinosaur. They are challenging to pit against every other due to the fact shark and dinosaur jaws have various varieties and numbers of teeth, explained Jack Tseng (opens in new tab), a biologist and assistant professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Associated: What is the toothiest animal on Earth?

Bite force can be measured straight or estimated indirectly. Living animals can bite down on a force gauge, which is how scientists measured the saltwater crocodile’s intense bite. For living animals that scientists have not been in a position to test this way, such as orcas and sharks, bite force is primarily based on what is identified about their physique structure, shape and the form of prey they hunt.

Extinct animals are trickier. Only the jaw bones stay in a skull, which is why researchers use personal computer simulations to recreate jaw muscle tissues that have lengthy given that decomposed.

Producing of a killer bite

The Cretaceous dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex has an estimated bite force of 35,000 newtons. (Image credit: Martin Shields by means of Alamy Stock Photo)

What goes into a crushing bite? Many traits — such as head and jaw strength — play roles. Teeth are also a weapon. T. rex‘s head alone had bone-crushing energy, but it also had serrated knife-like teeth. Nevertheless, there is 1 element that dominates all other individuals, if you ask Daniel Huber (opens in new tab), a professor and chair of environmental research at The University of Tampa in Florida. 

“[Body] size is the single most vital element in figuring out bite force,” Huber told Reside Science in an e mail. 

Huber has discovered that a predator’s size overwhelms every little thing else, such as head width to the armor-like toughness of prey. The jaw adductor muscle tissues, which are accountable for closing the jawbones, are important. “The sizes and positions of these adductors can be evolutionarily tweaked to maximize the quantity of muscle force that can be transmitted into bite force,” he told Reside Science in an e mail. 

The iconic T. rex presumably had strong jaws, according to personal computer simulations of the dinosaur king (opens in new tab). When factoring in the sharpness of its teeth, estimates of the dino’s bite force skyrocket, Huber mentioned. But portion of that total force comes from not just bite force but also the added bite stress exerted by these sharp teeth.

“In basic, the sharper the tooth tip, the larger the prospective bite force provided the exact same input muscle force, due to the fact any such force would be concentrated at the tip of a tooth,” Tseng added.

Not all animals with a massive bite force are massive and toothy. Some are not even predators. The Galapagos huge ground finch (Geospiza magnirostris) has the most intense bite force for its size, according to a 2019 study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B (opens in new tab). This bird weighs only about 1 ounce (33 grams), but its beak can crack challenging nuts and seeds with a force of 70 newtons, which means it has the most strong bite force for its physique size, according to the study. That provides the finch 320 occasions the biting energy of T. rex. 

How do humans examine? The hardest bite our species can handle is about 1,000 newtons, so we’re not even in the exact same league.

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