Estimating maximum bite performance in Tyrannosaurus rex using multi-body dynamics

K. T. Bates, P. L. Falkingham

Abstract

Bite mechanics and feeding behaviour in Tyrannosaurus rex are controversial. Some contend that a modest bite mechanically limited T. rex to scavenging, while others argue that high bite forces facilitated a predatory mode of life. We use dynamic musculoskeletal models to simulate maximal biting in T. rex. Models predict that adult T. rex generated sustained bite forces of 35 000–57 000 N at a single posterior tooth, by far the highest bite forces estimated for any terrestrial animal. Scaling analyses suggest that adult T. rex had a strong bite for its body size, and that bite performance increased allometrically during ontogeny. Positive allometry in bite performance during growth may have facilitated an ontogenetic change in feeding behaviour in T. rex, associated with an expansion of prey range in adults to include the largest contemporaneous animals.

  • Received January 19, 2012.
  • Accepted February 7, 2012.
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