Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient Predator Had Strongest Bite Of Any Fish, Rivaling Bite Of Large Alligators And T. Rex

Date:
November 29, 2006
Source:
Field Museum
Summary:
Dunkleosteus terrelli may have been the world's first apex predator. The force of its bite was remarkably powerful: 11,000 pounds. The bladed dentition of this 400-million-year-old extinct fish focused the bite force into a small area, the fang tip, at an incredible force of 80,000 pounds per square inch. This is the strongest bite force of any fish ever, and rivals the bite of large alligators and T. rex.

A photograph of the Dunkleosteus terrelli fossil skull upon which this study was based. Scientists created a biomechanical model to simulate the jaw's function. From that they determined muscle mass and bite force. This ancient fish had a bite that exerted 11,000 pounds of force, the strongest bite of any fish ever, and one of the strongest bites of any animal, rivaling the bite of large alligators and Tyrannosaurus rex. The bladed dentition focused the bite force into a small area, the fang tip, at an incredible force of 80,000 pounds per square inch. (Photo Credit: Michael LaBarbera, courtesy of The Field Museum

It could bite a shark in two. It might have been the first "king of the beasts." And it could teach scientists a lot about humans, because it is in the sister group of all jawed vertebrates.

Dunkleosteus terrelli lived 400 million years ago, grew up to 33 feet long and weighed up to four tons. Scientist have known for years that it was a dominant predator, but new research to be published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters on November 29 reveals that the force of this predator's bite was remarkably powerful: 11,000 pounds. The bladed dentition focused the bite force into a small area, the fang tip, at an incredible force of 80,000 pounds per square inch.

Even more surprising is the fact that this fish could also open its mouth very quickly--in just one fiftieth of a second--which created a strong suction force, pulling fast prey into its mouth. Usually a fish has either a powerful bite or a fast bite, but not both.

"The most interesting part of this work for me was discovering that this heavily armored fish was both fast during jaw opening and quite powerful during jaw closing," said Mark Westneat, Curator of Fishes at The Field Museum and co-author of the paper. "This is possible due to the unique engineering design of its skull and different muscles used for opening and closing. And it made this fish into one of the first true apex predators seen in the vertebrate fossil record." This formidable fish was a placoderms, a diverse group of armored fishes that dominated aquatic ecosystems during the Devonian, from 415 million to 360 million years ago. Dunkleosteus' bladed jaws suggest that it was among the first vertebrates to use rapid mouth opening and a powerful bite to capture and fragment evasive prey prior to ingestion.

To determine the bite force, scientists used the fossilized skull of a Dunkleosteus terrelli to recreate the musculature of the ancient fish. This biomechanical model showed the jaw's force and motion, and revealed a highly kinetic skull driven by a unique mechanism based on four rotational joints working in harmony. The extinct fish had the strongest bite of any fish ever, and one of the strongest bites of any animal, rivaling the bites of large alligators and Tyrannosaurus rex.

Thus Dunkleosteus was able to feast on armored aquatic animals that also lived during the Devonian, including sharks, arthropods, ammonoids, and others protected by cuticle, calcium carbonate, or dermal bone.

"Dunkleosteus was able to devour anything in its environment," said Philip Anderson, at the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago and lead author of the research. The bladed jaws, capable of ripping apart prey larger than its own mouth, is a feature sharks didn't develop until 100 million years later.

"Overall, this study shows how useful mechanical engineering theory can be in studying the behavior of fossil animals," he added. "We cannot actually watch these animals feed or interact, but we can understand the range of possible behaviors by examining how the preserved parts are shaped and connected to each other."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Field Museum. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Field Museum. "Ancient Predator Had Strongest Bite Of Any Fish, Rivaling Bite Of Large Alligators And T. Rex." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061129094125.htm>.
Field Museum. (2006, November 29). Ancient Predator Had Strongest Bite Of Any Fish, Rivaling Bite Of Large Alligators And T. Rex. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061129094125.htm
Field Museum. "Ancient Predator Had Strongest Bite Of Any Fish, Rivaling Bite Of Large Alligators And T. Rex." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061129094125.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins