• Fri. Mar 24th, 2023

Which animals have the strongest chew?


Mar 19, 2023

The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has the very best chew pressure of any animal alive as we speak. (Picture credit score: DianaLynne by way of Getty Photos)

Tyrannosaurus rex and megalodon are repeat science fiction stars for a cause: Their bites have been ferocious. However which extinct and dwelling creatures really exert the strongest chew pressure? 

Chew pressure, based on a examine revealed in Frontiers (opens in new tab), is the pressure that the muscular tissues and bones of the higher and decrease jaw generate when an animal bites. Animals with robust chew forces normally haven’t any downside clamping down on struggling prey. Some predators are even in a position to break via prey with particularly robust armor.

Of all of the creatures alive as we speak, the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has the strongest recognized chew pressure, at 16,460 newtons (newtons measure pressure magnitude), a 2012 examine within the journal PLOS One (opens in new tab) discovered. For comparability, 1 newton equals a few quarter pound of pressure. No matter results in the jaws of a saltwater crocodile is subjected to excessive pressure throughout its dying gasps.

Paleobiologist Gregory M. Erickson measuring an alligator’s chew pressure. (Picture credit score: Photograph by: Gregory M. Erickson by way of Florida State College)

There are two contenders that would problem — and probably beat — the croc, however their chew forces haven’t been measured in a reside setting as a result of these animals are aquatic predators. If confirmed, the strongest chew pressure may very well be that of the orca (Orcinus orca), estimated at 84,516 newtons by the Dutch Shark Society (opens in new tab), distantly adopted by the chew pressure of an amazing white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), at about 18,000 newtons, based on laptop fashions utilized in a 2008 examine revealed within the Journal of Zoology (opens in new tab).

Amongst extinct animals, the chomp of T. rex could 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 in the past. The massive shark Megalodon (Otodus megalodon) terrorized the seas from 15 million to three.6 million years in the past with a chew pressure of as much as 182,200  newtons (opens in new tab). Nevertheless, there are nonetheless questions on whether or not the shark may beat out the dinosaur. They’re tough to pit towards one another as a result of shark and dinosaur jaws have differing kinds and numbers of enamel, defined Jack Tseng (opens in new tab), a biologist and assistant professor of integrative biology on the College of California, Berkeley.

Associated: What’s the toothiest animal on Earth?

Chew pressure might be measured immediately or estimated not directly. Dwelling animals can chew down on a pressure gauge, which is how scientists measured the saltwater crocodile’s excessive chew. For dwelling animals that scientists haven’t been in a position to check this fashion, resembling orcas and sharks, chew pressure is predicated on what is understood about their physique construction, form and the kind of prey they hunt.

Extinct animals are trickier. Solely the jaw bones stay in a cranium, which is why researchers use laptop simulations to recreate jaw muscular tissues which have lengthy since decomposed.

Making of a killer chew

The Cretaceous dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex has an estimated chew pressure of 35,000 newtons. (Picture credit score: Martin Shields by way of Alamy Inventory Photograph)

What goes right into a crushing chew? A number of traits — together with head and jaw power — play roles. Enamel are additionally a weapon. T. rex‘s head alone had bone-crushing energy, however it additionally had serrated knife-like enamel. Nevertheless, there’s one issue that dominates all others, should you ask Daniel Huber (opens in new tab), a professor and chair of environmental research at The College of Tampa in Florida. 

“[Body] dimension is the only most necessary think about figuring out chew pressure,” Huber advised Dwell Science in an electronic mail. 

Huber has discovered {that a} predator’s dimension overwhelms the whole lot else, together with head width to the armor-like toughness of prey. The jaw adductor muscular tissues, that are accountable for closing the jawbones, are essential. “The sizes and positions of these adductors might be evolutionarily tweaked to maximise the quantity of muscle pressure that may be transmitted into chew pressure,” he advised Dwell Science in an electronic mail. 

The enduring T. rex presumably had highly effective jaws, based on laptop simulations of the dinosaur king (opens in new tab). When factoring within the sharpness of its enamel, estimates of the dino’s chew pressure skyrocket, Huber stated. However a part of that complete pressure comes from not simply chew pressure but additionally the additional chew strain exerted by these sharp enamel.

“Typically, the sharper the tooth tip, the upper the potential chew pressure given the identical enter muscle pressure, as a result of any such pressure could be concentrated on the tip of a tooth,” Tseng added.

Not all animals with an enormous chew pressure are monumental and toothy. Some aren’t even predators. The Galapagos giant floor finch (Geospiza magnirostris) has essentially the most intense chew pressure for its dimension, based on a 2019 examine revealed within the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B (opens in new tab). This chook weighs solely about 1 ounce (33 grams), however its beak can crack robust nuts and seeds with a pressure of 70 newtons, that means it has essentially the most highly effective chew pressure for its physique dimension, based on the examine. That provides the finch 320 instances the biting energy of T. rex. 

How do people examine? The toughest chew our species can handle is round 1,000 newtons, so we’re not even in the identical league.