An adult Tyrannosaurus rex could absolutely pulverize bones. Exercise on, the bite of a Big Daddy or Mommy rex helped terrifying beasts access nutrients locked in the skeleton of downed prey. But what about juveniles?
A study published this week in the journal PeerJ suggests that adolescent T. rex had strong jaws, but they couldn’t quite crush bones like their parents. Still, it wasn’t a joke, with a bite that exerted over 5,600 newtons of force – a little more powerful than that of an adult lion or tiger.
The research used fossils excavated in eastern Montana in the Hell Creek Formation, which features an abundance of Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus fossils, in addition to a treasure of fossilized Edmontosaurus, a duck-billed herbivore from the end of the Cretaceous. One particular fossil was the key to the study: the skull of a young T. rex with a bite mark on its face.
The team believe it was a case of intra-species warfare. “What, besides another T. rex, would be able to bite another T. rex and pierce its skull?” Said Joseph Peterson, a paleontologist who studies fossil wounds at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.
Based on the deformities of the bone, Jack Tseng, assistant curator at the University of California Museum of Paleontology, created a replica of T. rex tooth with an alloy, slowly pushing it into a thawed cow bone. to see how much pressure was needed for it to crack. It’s a valuable indicator of a true T. rex bite, but Tseng notes that there isn’t a single number that perfectly describes an animal’s bite forces – it boils down to technique.
It does provide some useful information, however. Understanding the force of a young T. rex’s bite helps show that the force of the creature’s bite has strengthened over time.
“It actually gives us a small metric to help us gauge how quickly the bite force changes from juvenile to adulthood, and something to compare with how the body changes during that same. period, ”said Peterson. “It only adds to this complete picture of how animals like tyrannosaurs lived and grew and the roles they played in this ecosystem.”
With a bite force comparable to that of the big cats, it seems a tiger versus T. rex clash would have been a titanic struggle. Of course thisthat ended the era of dinosaurs means we’ll never know.