T. rex's mighty bite

29 February 2012

New research suggests that the iconic dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex had the most powerful bite of any living or extinct terrestrial animal, according to a paper published today in Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

A team based at the University of Liverpool used a computer model to artificially scale up the skulls of a human, alligator, a juvenile T. rex, and another large predatory dinosaur, Allosaurus, to the size of an adult T. rex.  In each case the bite forces increased as expected, but they did not increase to the level of the adult T. rex, implying that it may have had the most powerful bite of any terrestrial animal.
Dr Karl Bates, from the University’s Department of Musculoskeletal Biology, said: “The power of the T.rex jaw has been a much debated topic over the years.  Scientists only have the skeleton to work with, as muscle does not survive with the fossil, so we often have to rely on statistical analysis or qualitative comparisons to living animals, which differ greatly in size and shape from the giant enigmatic dinosaurs like T.rex.  As these methods are somewhat indirect, it can be difficult to get an objective insight into how dinosaurs might have functioned and what they may or may not have been capable of in life.
“Our results show that the T.rex had an extremely powerful bite, making it one of the most dangerous predators to have roamed our planet.  Its unique musculoskeletal system will continue to fascinate scientists for years to come.”