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: Cheetahs found to use spatial avoidance techniques to allow for surviving among lions

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

Genome yields insights into golden eagle vision, smell

14 hours ago

Purdue and West Virginia University researchers are the first to sequence the genome of the golden eagle, providing a bird's-eye view of eagle features that could lead to more effective conservation strategies.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Genetic legacy of rare dwarf trees is widespread

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London have found genetic evidence that one of Britain's native tree species, the dwarf birch found in the Scottish Highlands, was once common in England.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Cell resiliency surprises scientists

New research shows that cells are more resilient in taking care of their DNA than scientists originally thought. Even when missing critical components, cells can adapt and make copies of their DNA in an alternative ...

Google+ boss leaving the company

The executive credited with bringing the Google+ social network to life is leaving the Internet colossus after playing a key role there for nearly eight years.