Tyrannosaurus rex aka T. rex was one of the most frightening animals to have ever existed on the planet. The dinosaur’s jaws applied so much force in a bite that they would crush the prey to a pulp. A study published Wednesday in the journal Scientific Reports reveals the power of the animal’s bite. The study was conducted by Gregory Erickson of the Florida State University and Paul Gignac of the Oklahoma State University.

Tyrannosaurus Rex
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Tyrannosaurus rex teeth exerted 431,000 pounds of force per square inch

Scientists found that the Tyrannosaurus rex applied a force of nearly 8000 pounds to crush bones of its prey. That is equal to the weight of three small cars simultaneously generating record tooth pressures. Erickson said it was like placing three small cars on top of a T. rex’s jaws. The ability to pulverize bones is called extreme osteophagy. Other carnivorous animals such as hyenas and wolves can also break and consume bones. They have specialized teeth for this purpose.

The T. rex’s teeth inflict an even bigger damage. According to Erickson, each tooth would exert a pressure of about 431,000 pounds per square inch. The massive pressure allowed the dinosaur to crush bones before eating them. The ability to crush bones helped them “fully exploit the carcasses” of giant horned dinosaurs and hadrosaurids, whose bones were rich in marrow and mineral salts.

Erickson said the ancient beast could “slice through just about anything in its realm.” Besides its enormous size and force, the Tyrannosaurus rex was helped by a specific set of tooth characteristics. Its teeth were conical, large, and strongly rooted. Measuring about seven inches in length, their teeth were replaced every two years after being worn. Also, the animal had more than 30 teeth in the upper jaw alone.

How researchers calculated the bite force

Erickson and Gignac used a unique method to study the pressure exerted by T. rex teeth. They studied the living descendants of dinosaurs (birds) and their cousins (crocodiles and alligators) to understand the T. rex’s chomping capabilities. They first built and tested a 3D model to predict the bite forces of the crocodile. After ensuring that the crocodile 3D model was accurate, they built a similar one for T. rex. The T. rex model was based on the CT scan of a well-preserved skull.

The 3D model allowed scientists to estimate the bite forces at each tooth position along the jaw. While the Tyrannosaurus rex applies about 8000 pounds of pressure, the biggest living crocodiles have a bite force of only about 3700 pounds. By comparison, the human bites are only about 200 pounds.

T. rex was not he greatest biter in history

It’s not the first time researchers have investigated the Tyrannosaur’s bite force. In 2012, a group of scientists used digitally scanned skull of T. rex to make 3D models. They concluded that the dinosaur’s bite forces ranged between 7868 and 12,814 pounds. However, most of the past studies were theoretical constructs. They were not based on living animals for which we know the bite force.

Despite its enormous bite force, the T. rex isn’t the most powerful biter in the history. The crown of the best biters will go to the largest extinct crocodiles that were 35-40 feet long. Scientists believe those beasts had bite forces of up to 18,000 pounds.