Teenage T. rex had knife-shaped teeth that bit harder than we thought

From high school cliques you can’t sit with to bullying, body shame and shame about it all, teens can be vicious, but those in human persuasion still have nothing on a teenager. Tyrannosaurus Rex.

T. rex torn their terrible adolescence with scimitars in their mouths. Their teeth were literal knives in their teenage years – training for when they would finally get thicker and more rounded to crush bones. Ripping the flesh was a much easier way to grasp for juveniles who had not yet developed the full strength of an adult jawbone. These adolescent theropods were actually so different from adults that UC Berkeley paleontologist Jack Tseng believes they had their own ecological niche as predators.

Although they don’t have the jaws they would have by the time they reach legal age, Tseng, who co-authored a study recently published in PairJ, found that juvenile T. rex had a stronger bite force than previously assumed, even though they couldn’t compete with their parents yet.

“Bite force is an important characteristic in estimating the size of prey or food that live and extinct jawed animals might consume or stalk,” Tseng told SYFY WIRE in an interview. “It’s a way of understanding the physical limits of the jaws. This gives us a better idea of ​​old food webs when we lack information on direct predator-prey or predator-predator interactions.

Even the spawning royalty of the food chain needed to survive. Being in another niche from their monstrous elders might actually have worked in their favor, as there was a limit to the size of the prey they could take down, so they didn’t have to fight with something bigger. and more terrifying than they were. Not that they were hungry. They were initially thought to have a peak bite force of around 900 pounds, and Tseng’s research brought that number to nearly 1,350 pounds. Human jaws can only exert up to 67 pounds of force. The teens were beaten by the adults, who were able to gnaw the hapless sauropods with almost 8,000 pounds of force.

“Our study differed from most other tyrannosaurus bite force research because we focused on recreating the puncture marks recorded in the fossils,” Tseng said. “The bite forces we estimated for juvenile tyrannosaurs were similar to those of a hyena.”

To figure this out, he and his fellow paleontologist and study co-author Joseph Peterson created a metal replica of one of these teeth, based on that of a 13-year-old teenager. T. rex, and tried to replicate the bite marks found on the fossilized bones of other dinosaurs. It took trial after trial on a mechanical trial frame to replicate the shape and depth of these marks on a cow’s leg bone. The marks on the fossils also suggested that the teens were trying to increase the potency of their bite as they went through their growing pains.

jurassic park got a lot wrong. Among them was the T. rex thunder after that pickup truck in the rain, because in reality, a dinosaur of this size probably would have had a hard time crawling around a parking lot, if it was on land. There has recently been controversial research that sees it more as a huge crocodile with a semi-aquatic existence. Younger, lighter and faster teens may have been able to hunt things where adults could no longer roam.

Anything that got caught in their jaws was unlikely to escape once stabbed with those teeth. It is possible that the juveniles not only hunted, but profited from the killings that the adult mob could not finish by searching. There was also another way the Teen Terrors could have dealt with prey that defended itself or turned out to be too big. Yes T. rex were really like crocodilians on steroids, they might have been capable of the dreaded Roll of death, or ruthless twisting movements that would tear off chunks of flesh. Tseng is skeptical, but he doesn’t count.

“I would not rule out the death scroll as a possible behavior in a larger repertoire of predatory strategies used by them,” he said. “One way to get more answers would be to study the behavior of the death scroll in living predators and relate it to how their skeletons are shaped to perform such a task; we can then examine the fossil bones to see if any extinct predators had skeletons capable of such behavior.

If you’ve ever broken into a bar or club as a teenager, imagine the bouncer making you open your mouth to prove your age. No fake ID card would have got you through.

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