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      Bite club: comparative bite force in big biting mammals and the prediction of predatory behaviour in fossil taxa

      1 , 2 , 3
      Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
      The Royal Society

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          Abstract

          We provide the first predictions of bite force (BS) in a wide sample of living and fossil mammalian predators. To compare between taxa, we calculated an estimated bite force quotient (BFQ) as the residual of BS regressed on body mass. Estimated BS adjusted for body mass was higher for marsupials than placentals and the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) had the highest relative BS among extant taxa. The highest overall BS was in two extinct marsupial lions. BFQ in hyaenas were similar to those of related, non-osteophagous taxa challenging the common assumption that osteophagy necessitates extreme jaw muscle forces. High BFQ in living carnivores was associated with greater maximal prey size and hypercarnivory. For fossil taxa anatomically similar to living relatives, BFQ can be directly compared, and high values in the dire wolf (Canis dirus) and thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) suggest that they took relatively large prey. Direct inference may not be appropriate where morphologies depart widely from biomechanical models evident in living predators and must be considered together with evidence from other morphological indicators. Relatively low BFQ values in two extinct carnivores with morphologies not represented among extant species, the sabrecat, Smilodon fatalis, and marsupial sabretooth, Thylacosmilus atrox, support arguments that their killing techniques also differed from extant species and are consistent with 'canine-shear bite' and 'stabbing' models, respectively. Extremely high BFQ in the marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex, indicates that it filled a large-prey hunting niche.

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          Cranial strength in relation to estimated biting forces in some mammals

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            Development of bite strength and feeding behaviour in juvenile spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta)

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              Cranial mechanics and feeding in Tyrannosaurus rex.

              It has been suggested that the large theropod dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex was capable of producing extremely powerful bite forces and resisting multi-directional loading generated during feeding. Contrary to this suggestion is the observation that the cranium is composed of often loosely articulated facial bones, although these bones may have performed a shock-absorption role. The structural analysis technique finite element analysis (FEA) is employed here to investigate the functional morphology and cranial mechanics of the T. rex skull. In particular, I test whether the skull is optimized for the resistance of large bi-directional feeding loads, whether mobile joints are adapted for the localized resistance of feeding-induced stress and strain, and whether mobile joints act to weaken or strengthen the skull overall. The results demonstrate that the cranium is equally adapted to resist biting or tearing forces and therefore the 'puncture-pull' feeding hypothesis is well supported. Finite-element-generated stress-strain patterns are consistent with T. rex cranial morphology: the maxilla-jugal suture provides a tensile shock-absorbing function that reduces localized tension yet 'weakens' the skull overall. Furthermore, peak compressive and shear stresses localize in the nasals rather than the fronto-parietal region as seen in Allosaurus, offering a reason why robusticity is commonplace in tyrannosaurid nasals. Copyright 2004 The Royal Society
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
                Proc. R. Soc. B
                The Royal Society
                0962-8452
                1471-2954
                March 22 2005
                March 22 2005
                March 22 2005
                March 22 2005
                : 272
                : 1563
                : 619-625
                Affiliations
                [1 ]School of Biological Sciences (A08), University of SydneyNSW, Australia 2006
                [2 ]School of Environmental and Life Sciences (Earth Sciences), University of NewcastleNSW, Australia 2308
                [3 ]Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of GuelphOntario, Canada N1G 2W1
                Article
                10.1098/rspb.2004.2986
                1564077
                15817436
                0c20c543-e6bd-4125-aefe-33387ab72f9c
                © 2005
                History

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