What Gave the T-Rex its Powerful Bite?
by Jules Da Costa, age 13
Scientists always knew the Tyrannosaurus Rex (T - Rex) had a powerful bite but they were unsure why. Now, new research explains the science behind why the bite had such tremendous power.
Scientists have recently gathered data about the T- Rex’s bite. They discovered that the bone-crushing bite was powered by a stiff lower jaw. The stiffness came from a small boomerang-shaped bone called the prearticular. A study presented in April 2021 shows that this bone was what gave the T- Rex its flexible lower jaw. A flexible lower jaw allowed them to open their mouth wider than most reptiles to bite larger prey. Like all reptiles, T-Rex had a joint in their lower jawbone called the intramandibular joint. Scientists have shown that with a bone spanning this intramandibular joint, the T-Rex could produce a bite force of more than six metric tons of power, which is the weight of an average delivery truck.
The scientists used 3-D scans and computer models to discover how the T-Rex bite was so powerful. One of the scientists was John Fortner. He is a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. John and his colleagues are using some advanced technologies to dig deeper for information about the T-Rex’s bite. First, they started a 3-D scan of its skull. After the scan, they used a computer model to see how the mandible would move. Finally, the scientists created two different versions of the jawbone to see how ligaments and the prearticular affected the bite strength.
What the scientists discovered was extremely interesting. They think the prearticular bone is somehow involved with the bite. The T-Rex’s lower jaw is a complicated group of joined bones. “The prearticular seems to lock the system together,”says Thomas Holtz, Jr. He is a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland in College Park. Dr. Holtz also said the prearticular “provides a demonstrable benefit” on the biting.
The scientists still hope to conduct more simulations and research more about the dinosaur's bite in the future. Further research is being conducted to understand the intricacies of the T-Rex and its powerful bite.
[Sources: Science News for Students; National Geographic]