T. rex's bone-crushing bite

by Mary Caperton Morton
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

T.rex (specimen AMNH 5027) at American Museum of Natural History. Credit: J.M. Luijt CC BY-SA 2.5 nl.

In a landscape rife with fearsome predators, Tyrannosaurus rex carved out a bone-crushing niche. New research analyzing the force generated by T. rex’s massive jaws found that the terrible tyrant’s bite could exert a pressure of more than 30,300 kilograms per square centimeter (431,000 pounds per square inch): a world record.

Extreme osteophagy — the consumption of bones — is seen in a few large living carnivores such as wolves and hyenas, but most animals don’t have the bite force to pulverize large bones. The new study, published in Scientific Reports, suggests that T. rex could crunch even the largest bones with gusto.

“It was this bone-crunching acumen that helped T. rex to more fully exploit the carcasses of large horned-dinosaurs and duck-billed hadrosaurids whose bones, rich in mineral salts and marrow, were unavailable to smaller, less-equipped carnivorous dinosaurs,” said co-author Paul Gignac of Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, in a statement.

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