19 May, 2017
The new model made it possible for the researchers to estimate the bite force quotient of the T-rex at any tooth position along its jaw. This destructive ability opened up a rich source of nutrients (bone marrow and salts) for the T-Rex, giving it an advantage over the other ravenous predators stalking the dinosaur-dense land, Erickson, a paleobiologist at Florida State University and a co-author of the study, argues.
T. rex's menu included everything from duck-billed dinosaurs to triceratops. Ultimately, the researchers estimated a T.rex could deliver some 8,000 pounds of bite force on average, roughly the weight of three small cars.
The Tyrannosaurus rex's bone-crushing capacity, known as "extreme osteophagy" is usually seen in carnivorous mammals such as wolves, but not in reptiles, whose teeth do not allow for chewing up bones. After ensuring that the crocodile 3D model was accurate, they built a similar one for T. rex.
The Tyrannosaurus rex possessed the most powerful bite ever recorded, chomping down with almost 8,000 pounds of force, according to a new computer model based on high-resolution CT scans of fossilized skulls and detailed in the latest issue of the journal Scientific Reports.
Gignac and Erickson focused on the T. rex because of the vast amounts of data that exist regarding this iconic dinosaur species, besides the evidence of the T. rex bite being one of the best documented in the whole area of paleontology.
Remember that scene in Jurassic Park when a T. rex chomps on a Ford Explorer as if it were a snack? The bite force of the biggest living crocodile measured about 3,700 pounds.
"Having high bite force doesn't necessarily mean an animal can puncture hide or pulverize bone, tooth pressure is the biomechanically more relevant parameter", Erickson said in a statement.
Dr Erickson became curious with figuring out the bite force of the T. rex as a graduate student in the mid-1990s when a colleague showed him a fossilised triceratops pelvis riddled with about 80 bite marks. "They carefully reconstructed many muscles and accounted for important aspects of muscle architecture and physiology".
In a way, the results were a surprise, with the overall force estimates being lower than other researchers previously predicted, according to the study. Hyena's, renowned for their powerful bite, can not break into elephant bones, which would provide them a bounty of nutrition-rich marrow. It was also how that force was transferred to the teeth itself, a metric they called tooth pressure.
Those teeth may also have compensated for the T. rex's infamously small hands.
The finding, published online May 17 in the journal Scientific Reports, also shows how sophisticated eating systems, such as the ability to break bone, were present during the dinosaur age, he said.
NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE, BYLINE: If you want to know the biting power of a T. rex Gregory Erickson says you should start by looking at crocodiles.