Here’s How A T-Rex Bite Compares To A Lion’s Bite

Of all the dinosaurs that roamed the Earth, the Tyrannosaurus rex is among the most well-known. The “Jurassic Park” franchise may play fast and loose with science as it pleases (the Velociraptor was actually much smaller than the fearsome hunter the movie depicts, per Insider), but one thing can’t be denied: it made this enormous carnivore into a star.

According to National Geographic, the Tyrannosaurus rex could reach a preposterous size of 40 feet long and weigh up to 8 tons. It was one of the most formidable carnivores ever to walk the earth. How, then, would its bite compare to some of today’s mightiest hunters, such as lions? Naturally, the dinosaur’s great, fearsome mouth housed great, fearsome teeth: According to the Natural History Museum, the king of tyrant lizards had 60 teeth, each up to 8 inches long (Fossil Era claims that the largest ever found was 12 inches long). These were capable of such severe damage that they could bite through bone. By contrast, a lion’s biggest teeth — its canines — are around 7 centimeters (2.74 inches) long, Lion Alert reports.

The king of tyrant teeth

In 2013, Guinness World Records reported that the biggest living cat is a male liger by the name of Hercules that is a comparatively paltry 922 pounds and 3.33 meters (131 inches) long. As such, it’s beyond entirely unfair to compare a Tyrannosaurus rex’s bite strength to that of a lion. Still, it’s an incredible testament to just how powerful and imposing this extraordinary creature was.

In 2012, Dr. Karl Bates, a biomechanics researcher of the University of Liverpool, estimated that the Tyrannosaurus rex had a bite force of up to 60,000 newtons, per BBC News. Per Dino Pit, this was determined by computer modeling of the creature’s biology and makes the bite the strongest of any known land animal ever. Specifically, it is 3.5 times stronger than the bite of a great white shark, leaving lions far behind. 

In fact, a study published in 2021 suggests that a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex could match a big cat’s bite strength. Jack Tseng of the University of California Museum of Paleontology created a proxy Tyrannosaurus rex tooth and tested it against bone, per CNET. Through calculations based on fossil data (including a vital one from a young dinosaur that had itself been bitten), it was determined that even a young T-rex could out-bite a grown lion or tiger, with a bite force of approximately 5,600 newtons. As reported by National Geographic, lions, tigers, and hyenas bite with a force of around 4,450 newtons.

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