It turns out that T. rex's physical size might not have been the only thing we underestimated. A new study suggests that the king of apex predators may have also possessed the most powerful jaws in history.
The study was conducted by a team at the University of Liverpool which employed a new estimation method by reverse-engineering the animal's bite force—much the same way dinosaurs' running speeds have been determined from indirect evidence. Previous estimates put the T. rex's bite force in the 8,000 to 13,400 Newton-range. However, using the updated models, the team estimated that T. rex may have chomped down on its prey with as much as 57,000 Newtons of force.
The team also artificially scaled up the skulls of a human, an alligator, a juvenile T. rex, and Allosaurus to the size of an adult T. rex in an attempt to match the dinosaur's bite force. As Dr Karl Bates, from the University's Department of Musculoskeletal Biology, explained,
To build on previous methods of analysis, we took what we knew about T. rex from its skeleton and built a computer model that incorporated the major anatomical and physiological factors that determine bite performance. We then asked the computer model to produce a bite so that we could measure the speed and force of it directly. We compared this to other animals of smaller body mass and also scaled up smaller animals to the size of T. rex to compare how powerful it was in relative terms.
None of the other skulls could remotely match the T. rex in terms of power, making the T. rex the most deadly land animal to ever walk the Earth. It also confirms what we all know: the only safe place to sit on a T. rex is in its cockpit. [University of Liverpool via Physorg]