Rex had 8000-pound chomping power, study says

Rex had 8000-pound chomping power, study says

Scientists have studied the bite force of the king of the dinosaurs.

Tyrannosaurus rex's powerful bite was delivered with almost 8,000 pounds of force, more than two times greater than today's largest living crocodiles, say researchers using a computer model, and the legendary dinosaur's long teeth generated 431,000 pounds per square inch of pressure. The Palo Alto, California-based company said the prototype contains 160 terabytes of memory, capable of managing the information from every book in the U.S. Library of Congress five times over. For instance, scientists reported in 2012 that they had used digitally scanned T. rexskullsto make computer models, finding that the beast could bite with forces ranging from 7,868 to 12,814 pounds-force (35,000 to 57,000 newtons), Live Science previously reported. Together, high bite force and bone pressure allowed T.rex to drill into bones through repeated gnashing, eventually causing them to shatter or explode. Channeling the force, a Tyrannosaurus bite could impart as much as 431,000 pounds per square inch (psi), which helped the animal pulverize the bones of its prey to give it a nutritional advantage over other predators of its day. A study published Wednesday in the journal Scientific Reports reveals the power of the animal's bite.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE, BYLINE: If you want to know the biting power of a T. rex Gregory Erickson says you should start by looking at crocodiles.

What the researchers discovered was that it was this combination of both overall bite force with individual tooth pressure that made the T. rex so destructive. But if we go back into prehistory to the end of the Cretaceous period, we find a predator that could bite down with more than double that amount of crushing force: Tyrannosaurus rex.

"Lots of those earlier bite force estimates were more theoretical constructs", he says.

To show that T.rex's teeth had what it took, Erickson, along with paleontologist Paul Gignac, performed a comprehensive analysis of the animal's bite, combining measurements from T.rex skulls and teeth, high-resolution casts, and an anatomical model Gignac developed during grad school to predict bite forces in crocodilians based on their musculature. Put simply, T. rex's mouth was created to pulverise even the strongest bones. After ensuring that the crocodile 3D model was accurate, they built a similar one for T. rex.

The dinosaur "managed these feats, in part, because of its large size but more so because of a specific set of tooth traits - extraordinarily large, conical and strongly rooted teeth that were replaced after being worn biennially", Gignac told CBS News. Also, the animal had more than 30 teeth in the upper jaw alone.

Wolves and hyenas, for example, are also able to crush bones with their teeth, accessing nutritious marrow.

"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", Gignac wrote in the study.

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