Science

No bone could resist T. Rex’s pulverizing bite


An original and nearly complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur named " Tristan Otto " is on display at Berlin's Natural History Museum on December 16, 2015. (AFP/John Macdougall )
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The bone-crunching bite of Tyrannosaurus Rex was like no other, according to a study released Wednesday that solidifies the fabled carnivore’s reputation as the most fearsome of dinosaurs.

T. Rex could not only crack the biggest of bones, it could also pulverize and ingest them, absorbing marrow and minerals beyond the reach of less well-endowed competitors, researchers reported.

“The combination of impressive bite force and stout teeth set T. Rex apart,” lead author Paul Gignac, an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University, told AFP.

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

Gignac and Gregory Erickson from Florida State University built on earlier attempts to measure T. Rex’s bite force by adding comparisons with predators roaming the wild today.

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

Their secret? So-called occluding teeth that fit together perfectly, top-and-bottom, a feature common in carnivorous mammals.

T. Rex lacked such dental gear, raising the question of how they managed to shatter resistant bones the size of small tree trunks.

“Without occlusion, it is typical for food items to rotate and shift as teeth are being engaged,” making it difficult to get a firm grasp, said Gignac.

To be sure, sheer power counts for something.

The study found that T. Rex’s jaw exerted a crushing 3.6 tonnes (8,000 pounds) of force, equivalent to the weight of three mid-sized cars.

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