T. rex bite: Tyrannosaurus easily out-chomped alligators, but not ancient sharks

T. rex bite: The Tyrannosaurus rex had the strongest bite of any terrestrial animal to live on Earth. Now scientists have found that  T. rex  had a stronger bite than was previously understood.

STR New / Reuters
In this image, then House Speaker Newt Gingrich inspects a Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil that was in his office on loan from Smithsonian Institute. New research shows that the Tyrannosaurus Rex was a stronger biter than previously known.

Bite strength is a matter of life or death for many predators. They are dependent on their abilities to kill and consume their prey for survival. The larger the prey, often, the greater the bite force.

The Tyrannosaurus rex, the most fearsome land-based carnivore of all time had a stronger bite than was previously known, new research shows.

Through digital models, scientists have demonstrated that the adult Tyrannosaurus rex had the strongest bite of any land-based animal ever to live on Earth. Their bites would have had the force of somewhere between 7,868 and 12,814 pounds (between 35,000 and 57,000 newtons). This force is comparable to that of an elephant sitting down, according to LiveScience.

"Such a powerful bite may have enabled T. rex to crush large bones," one of the study's authors, Peter Falkingham, of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, told LiveScience in an email.

The new study, published in the journal Biology Letters in February, suggests that younger T. rex had a weaker bite than their parents, indicating that they ate smaller prey. Due to differences in strength and size, the adult T. rex would not have had competition for prey from their young or other carnivores, allowing them to be successful "large prey specialists."

Though the T. rex may have been the strongest biter to walk the Earth, the megalodon, an ancient shark, is likely to have had the strongest bite ever. Studies based partly on the size of their fossilized teeth have found that these big-toothed whale-eaters took bites with an estimated force of between 24,000 and 40,000 pounds. With a strength like that, they would have easily out-chomped even the T. rex, according to National Geographic.

In comparison to fierce biters of the past, today's carnivores seem rather tame. According to the Biology Letters study, adult alligators only bite with a force of about 675 to 1300 pounds. "And think of what they can bite through, that can give you a sense of the power in a T. rex bite," Falkingham explained to LiveScience via email.

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