Tyrannosaurus Rex Bite Could 'Pulverize' Bones

Alain Brian
Mai 19, 2017

This is hardly the first time scientists have investigated the mighty tyrannosaur's bite force. And yet Gregory Erickson, FSU paleontologist and co-author of the new study published today in Science Advances, has long observed that the bite marks on the brutalized carcasses of T.rex lunches indicate a bone-chewer.

What's more, he says, teenage T. rexs put on an impressive five pounds of mass daily, so the animals certainly benefited from the ability to munch on the bones of prey. Bone marrow is rich in fat and calories. They have specialized teeth for this objective. The behaviour has been observed in present-day hyenas and wolves.

Modern carnivorous reptiles, such as crocodiles or alligators, do not have the ability to shatter bone with their teeth.

The scientists also describe how the remains of a triceratops bear 80 bite marks attributed to Tyrannosaurus rex, with part of a bone appearing to have been removed by repetitive, localised biting - and this feeding behaviour was also included into their model. Then, they inferred the dinosaur's muscle arrangement using a combination of crocodile- and bird-like features, as well as cues from the giant dinosaur's own bone structure.

"It regularly scored, deeply punctured and even sliced through bones".

Crocodiles and T. Rex "are probably operating at tooth pressures that are nearing the extreme structural limits of what reptilian tooth enamel can handle", Gignac said.

The teeth of Tyrannosaurus rex have been called "killer bananas", and a new study in the journal Scientific Reports shows just how hard those fearsome chompers could clamp down.

They based the T. rex model on a computed tomography (CT) scan from a scaled replica of one of the best-preserved skulls. A previous study authored by Gignac determined that the force had to be of a magnitude lesser than 67,000 pounds.

Popular Science explains the two numbers: Bite force (the 8,000-pound figure) refers to the force exerted by the jaw, but that's only half the story. Its teeth allowed it to crack into bones from fresh kills or scavenged corpses, a food source that other predators couldn't access.

With their model, Gignac and Erickson calculated that a T. rex could bite with about 3,628 kilograms of force, fairly conservative in the realm of Tyrannosaur estimates.

The giant Tyrannosaurus rex was able to crush the bones of its prey thanks to prodigious bite forces and world-record tooth pressures, scientists have shown.

Therrien was impressed with the complexity of the model, which reconstructed the jaw down to individual muscles. The teeth, or the hardened roof of the mouth, acted as pressure points on a beam, which exerted a bending force until the bone snapped. Researchers compared the teeth of the T. rex to high heels. High heels have really high pressure on the heel, and a flat doesn't.

Scientists found that the Tyrannosaurus rex applied a force of almost 8000 pounds to crush bones of its prey.

Nevertheless, the Tyrannosaurus Rex was not the king of crushing bones. However, most of the past studies were theoretical constructs. After all, when T. rex lived 67 million years ago, it was very fond of eating bones.

More important than bite force alone was how T. rex used it.

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