Crocodilians bite with the best

Mar 14, 2012
Crocodile. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Crocodiles can kill with the strongest bite force measured for any living animal, according to a report published Mar. 14 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The authors of the study, led by Gregory M. Erickson of Florida State University, measured the bite forces, as well as tooth pressures, for mature adults from all 23 living crocodilian species, including , alligators, caimans, and gharials. The strongest biter was a at 3,700 pounds. It also generated record setting pressures exceeding 360,000 pounds per square inch.

"Our study has allowed for a comprehensive understanding of the relationships between the anatomy, biomechanics, performance, and ecology among living and fossil from which the secrets to their 85 million year success can be gleaned. Notably, the largest extinct crocodilians generated bite forces in excess of 23,000 pounds, values two-fold greater than T. rex."

The researchers found that bite force was correlated with body size, but showed surprisingly little correlation with tooth form, diet, jaw shape or jaw strength. Their results suggest that once crocodilians evolved their remarkable capacity for force-generation, further adaptive modifications involved changes in body size and the dentition to modify forces and pressures for different diets.

Explore further: Research shows impact of BMR on brain size in fish

More information: Erickson GM, Gignac PM, Steppan SJ, Lappin AK, Vliet KA, et al. (2012) Insights into the Ecology and Evolutionary Success of Crocodilians Revealed through Bite-Force and Tooth-Pressure Experimentation. PLoS ONE 7(3): e31781. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031781

Related Stories

Testing the force of a shark's bite

Jul 31, 2007

Scientists are building a three dimensional computer model to test the ‘bite force’ of the Great White shark using data from a shark caught in beach nets off Australia's NSW Central Coast.

Marsupial lion tops African lion in fight to death

Jan 17, 2008

Pound for pound, Australia’s extinct marsupial lion (Thylacoleo carnifex) would have made mince meat of today’s African lion (Panthera leo) had the two big hyper-carnivores ever squared off in a fight to the death, according ...

New 'shieldcroc' species of ancient crocodile discovered

Jan 31, 2012

A University of Missouri researcher has identified a new species of prehistoric crocodile. The extinct creature, nicknamed "Shieldcroc" due to a thick-skinned shield on its head, is an ancestor of today's ...

Recommended for you

Research shows impact of BMR on brain size in fish

Apr 24, 2015

A commonly used term to describe nutritional needs and energy expenditure in humans – basal metabolic rate – could also be used to give insight into brain size of ocean fish, according to new research by Dr Teresa Iglesias ...

Why do animals fight members of other species?

Apr 23, 2015

Why do animals fight with members of other species? A nine-year study by UCLA biologists says the reason often has to do with "obtaining priority access to females" in the area.

Dolphins use extra energy to communicate in noisy waters

Apr 23, 2015

Dolphins that raise their voices to be heard in noisy environments expend extra energy in doing so, according to new research that for the first time measures the biological costs to marine mammals of trying ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.