Which animals have the strongest bite?


The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has the highest bite force of any animal alive today. (Image credit: DianaLynne via Getty Images)

Tyrannosaurus rex and megalodon are repeat science fiction stars for a reason: Their bites were ferocious. But which extinct and living creatures actually exert the strongest bite force? 

Bite force, according to a study published in Frontiers (opens in new tab), is the force that the muscles and bones of the upper and lower jaw generate when an animal bites. Animals with strong bite forces usually have no problem clamping down on struggling prey. Some predators are even able to break through prey with especially tough armor.

Of all the creatures alive today, the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has the strongest known bite force, at 16,460 newtons (newtons measure force magnitude), a 2012 study in the journal PLOS One (opens in new tab) found. For comparison, 1 newton equals about a quarter pound of force. Whatever ends up in the jaws of a saltwater crocodile is subjected to extreme force during its dying gasps.

Paleobiologist Gregory M. Erickson measuring an alligator’s bite force. (Image credit: Photo by: Gregory M. Erickson via Florida State University)

There are two contenders that could challenge — and possibly beat — the croc, but their bite forces have not been measured in a live setting because these animals are aquatic predators. If confirmed, the strongest bite force could be that of the orca (Orcinus orca), estimated at 84,516 newtons by the Dutch Shark Society (opens in new tab), distantly followed by the bite force of a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), at about 18,000 newtons, according to computer models used in a 2008 study published in the Journal of Zoology (opens in new tab).

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