Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How T. rex’s powerful bite crushed dino bones to a pulp

A dog, when gnawing on a favorite bone, slices it with its molars. If the pooch instead had a crocodile's snout and gap teeth, crunching bones would be out of the question. But imagine if you will a croc-canine combo, one that is 40 feet long, 20 feet tall, walks on two legs and weighs about six tons. You'd end up with something strange, although not that far from a Tyrannosaurus rex. After all, when T. rex lived 67 million years ago, it was very fond of eating bones. Yet it was far from your average dinosaur. “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. Therrien, a curator at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Canada, pointed to the mash-up of wimpy arms, massive jaws and teeth like “killer bananas.” Those chompers allowed the T. rex to chew like a bone-crunching hyena despite its reptilian snout. Coupled with a massive bite force, as calculated in a study published Wednesday in the journal Scientific Reports, the conical teeth generated pressures at their tips of up to 431,000 pounds per square inch. The study authors said their report was the first to examine the pressure exerted by dino dentition. The maximum pressure at the tip of a T. rex tooth was 28 times what is felt at the bottom of the deep-sea Mariana Trench in the western Pacific. It was enough to cause the toughest dinosaur bones to fracture. Put another way, a bite from a T. rex could shatter bones like a “. 45-caliber bullet with a mushroom head,” said paleontologist Gregory M. Erickson, a co-author of the study and curator at Florida State University's Biological Science Museum...more

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