Sci-tech

Rex Could Easily Shatter Bones with almost 8000 Pounds of Bite Force

Rex Could Easily Shatter Bones with almost 8000 Pounds of Bite Force

"That's like setting three small cars on top of the jaws of a T. rex-that's basically what was pushing down", NPR quotes researcher Gregory Erickson of Florida State University as saying.

Gregory Erickson, a researcher at Florida State University, and Paul Gignac, researcher at Oklahoma State University, chose to do their best to reproduce the bite force of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the carnivorous dinosaur made famous by the 90's adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel, Jurassic Park.

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

For the study, the researchers developed a new 3D anatomical model capable of predicting the bite force of animals.

For the study, the researchers first looked at how the musculature of crocodilians - close relatives of dinosaurs that include crocodiles, alligators, caimans, gharial and false gharial - aided their bite force, and then compared that with how it works for birds, which are the only living dinosaurs.

However, the new study includes several advancements.

"It was one of those superpowers that made T. rex stand apart from all other dinosaurs", Dr Brusatte said in an email message.

Snively added that refining models of T.rex's face muscles might slightly increase the animal's bite force in the future, noting that "it's possible that muscles in big dinosaurs could inherently produce more force/area", than the authors' crocodile-based models assumed.

Most extinct dinosaurs did not have this bone-splintering ability, nor do modern reptiles.

In current day, well-known bone crunchers like spotted hyenas and gray wolves have occluding teeth that are used to finely fragment long bones for access to the marrow inside - a hallmark feature of mammalian osteophagy.

They found that an adult T. rex could snap its mouth shut with a force of almost 8,000 pounds. "Once we understood how to build such models accurately, we constructed a similar one for T. rex", Gignac said. For example, they estimated in 2012 an enormous croc called Deinosuchus, which lived a few million years before T. rex and weighed even more, had a bite strength of 23,000 pounds (10,400 kg). Coupled with a massive bite force, as calculated in a study published Wednesday in the journal Scientific Reports, the conical teeth generated pressures at their tips of up to 303,000 tonnes per square metre. A tyrannosaurus tooth could generate 431,000 pounds per square inch.

"Without occlusion, it is typical for food items to rotate and shift as teeth are being engaged", making it hard to get a firm grasp, said Gignac.

"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".

What's more, he says, teenage T. rexs put on an impressive five pounds of mass daily, so the animals certainly benefited from the ability to munch on the bones of prey.


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