T. rex's unique teeth capitalized on the bite power, researchers said.
In a study published Wednesday in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers found a T. rex's long, conical teeth generated 431,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, allowing it to feed on not just the flesh of other dinosaurs but also crush the bones of its prey and consume the nutrients inside. Put simply, T. rex's mouth was created to pulverise even the strongest bones.
A reconstruction of the Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
Most mammal carnivores, such as hyenas and wolves, rely on repetitive biting to crush bones.
Triceratops pelvis bearing almost 80 T. rex bite marks. "If you look at T. rex, it's a total anomaly compared to all other meat-eating dinosaurs", paleontologist François Therrien told The Washington Post.
"It regularly scored, deeply punctured and even sliced through bones".
Unlike modern reptiles, T. rex could chew up enormous bones, to get the precious marrow within.
While it might be tempting to give the T. rex's massive size sole credit for its devastating bite, Gignac said that the creature's teeth are the real stars of the show.
From this, they were able to generate a model for T-Rex's bite. A previous study authored by Gignac determined that the force had to be of a magnitude lesser than 67,000 pounds.
This model allowed them to estimate the bite force at any tooth position along the jaw, as well as across the known adult size range for the tyrannosaur group, Gignac said.
Because the measurement range was so broad, Gignac and Erickson chose to focus on the species' biomechanics, using museum-grade casts, CR data, and how the teeth of the T. rex contacted the surface of the bone as it laid its bite.
"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", says Paul Gignac, assistant professor of Anatomy and Vertebrate Paleontology at Oklahoma State.
They reconstructed a 3D muscle architecture based on the crocodile's jaw, specifically the Alligator mississippiensis. 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. High heels have really high pressure on the heel, and a flat doesn't. To figure that out required calculating the pressure exerted on bones caught between the dinosaur's teeth.
The skull of the T. rex also appeared to be shaped to help the species concentrate its force in such a way that the bones of its prey could be cracked more easily.
Those teeth may also have compensated for the T. rex's infamously small hands.
There were still animals with stronger jaws that the King of the Dinosaurs, but luckily for humans they're all long gone. "They carefully reconstructed many muscles and accounted for important aspects of muscle architecture and physiology". He says, over the years, there have been lots of attempts to estimate the bite force of T. rex, and different numbers have been thrown out there.