Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Dino Bite

Computer modelling reveals how the mighty T-Rex jaw withstands stresses and strains

06 November 2019

Dino Bite

Capable of crunching lesser dinosaurs to bits, this Tyrannosaurus rex skull is giving palaeontologists something to chew over – how did it generate such a powerful bite without its own jaw bones shattering? It turns out, rather than its bones sliding and twisting similar to birds’ skulls – this is known as cranial kinesis – T-Rex jaws had a stiff structure, similar to crocodiles and humans. This computer model predicts how the muscles and ligaments might have flexed around a rigid skull – with areas of high strain highlighted in warm colours, and low strain in cool colours. A stiff jaw may have produced lower strain for the T-Rex – protecting its bath-tub-sized skull from injury. Similar approaches might investigate stresses in the bones and muscles in human jaws, eventually helping to treat issues arising from arthritis or temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Written by John Ankers

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