Animal bite force is a complex science, and you're likely to run into all sorts of conflicting numbers whether you're measuring in PSI (pounds per square inch), Newtons, or pounds of force. In addition, performing bite force tests is difficult and rarely a top priority for scientists who study animals.
If that's true, how do we know for sure which animals have the strongest bites in the world? Thanks to the tests that some scientists have performed and advanced computer models, we can make a credible estimate of what an animal's maximum bite force might be.
Before we get to the top ten strongest bite forces in the animal kingdom, let's explain how bite forces are measured, why it matters to animals, and how to model them.
Jump straight to the top 10 strongest bite force in the world
What is bite force?
Bite force, simply put, is the amount of force applied to the teeth during a bite. Essentially, it refers to how hard an animal can close its mouth and how much force it exerts in doing so.
Typically, bite force is measured inpounds per square inch or PSIin brief. This measurement refers to how many pounds of force is applied to one square inch.
If you are familiar with diving, you will understand that water pressure is expressed in PSI terms. It's how many pounds of pressure is exerted on every square inch of your body. Bite forces are measured in the same way.
The bite force of an animal in many cases depends on its size. Larger animals often have stronger bites. It is also imperative that the animals have strong enough teeth, good skull structure and powerful jaw muscles adapted to bend their jaws with such force.
Why is bite force important?
In nature, having a strong bite force is incredibly useful. If a predator can apply massive amounts of pressure when you bite into prey, it can kill, incapacitate, or trap and hold prey. It can also make you crack bones to get to the marrow inside.
For herbivores, stronger bite forces mean they can chew through tough foods like bamboo, crunch through nuts and seeds, and defend themselves against predators in no time.
Many animals with the highest bite forces are taken into accountapex predators, and the strength of their jaws makes them efficient hunters.
How do people calculate or test bite force?
The easiest way to test bite force is to use a strain gauge or a bite gauge, for example. You let the animal bite the device, and it electronically measures the force applied to it. The scale is similar to electronic scales that people use to monitor their weight.
Of course, catching and handling many of the strongest animals isn't exactly easy, nor can you just gently ask the animal to bite as hard as it can on a metal shell. It would be incredibly difficult to do this with sharks, for example.
Computer models and rough estimates become useful in determining an animal's bite force.
One thing that helps determine bite force is looking at what animals are capable of. It's kind of like the way you use achievements to scale up your favorite superheroes, but much more accurately.
For example, if you know that an animal can crush an antelope's femur bone, you can measure the force required to do the same. It gives you an accurate baseline minimum of the animal's bite force potential.
Thanks to our deep understanding and study of animal anatomy, we can use computer models to calculate bite force. Understanding the correlation with skull size and shape, as well as rough estimates of how much force jaw muscles can exert, allows us to model and run simulations to make a fairly accurate estimate of what an animal's bite force should be.
What determines bite force?
Honestly, quite a bit goes into what determines bite force. The biggest factors are skull shape, bone density, plasticity, jaw muscles, nutrition and tooth replacement.
The shape of the skull and jaw are important in calculating bite force. A narrower jaw results in the force being spread over a smaller area. Sloped and angled skulls also provide better leverage and better anchor points for larger jaw muscles.
If you're going to apply a lot of force to any part of your body, your bones need to be strong enough to do it and not shatter. Many animals can crush or break bones with their jaws, but their own bones don't break when they do. There are many reasons for this, but mainly because they have very dense jaw and skull bones, as well as favorable angles to exert that force.
Plasticity is important for both the skull and jawbones. It was long theorized that a T-rex could crush its own skull with a bite force as powerful as it could possibly be. Like T-rex, many animals have flexible joints built into their skulls that act as shock absorbers and allow the skull and jaws to flex, preventing that force from rebounding on itself.
Your jaw muscles allow you to open and close your mouth. While we didn't develop super strong jaw muscles, many animals did. Stronger and larger jaw and neck muscles contribute to a stronger bite force.
Along the evolutionary line, all species adapt and change based on their food sources. Modifications like being able to crush your prey's skull like a jaguar make hunting safer and more efficient. Being able to chew hard roots and shoot like gorillas means more food is available than if they relied solely on fruits or soft shoots.
These are examples of animals that naturally develop stronger jaws to match their food sources.
It's not always necessary, but the ability to replace teeth is important for animals with massive bite forces that chew through bone. Sharks andcrocodile speciesgo through hundreds if not thousands of teeth in their lifetime. If you're going to bite as hard as some of these animals, you better have incredibly strong teeth or be able to replace them quickly.
Top 10 strongest bite force in the world
Please note that figures for animals may vary, and while accurate estimates exist for most animals, rankings are subject to change. We use the bite force PSI and rank them by total PSI while ignoring relative body size.
10. Tiger (1,050 psi)
Bengal tigers typically weigh between 250 and 500 pounds (113.39 kg to 226.79 kg). These big cats are the most populous in all of India and China, but they are an endangered species due to their beautiful fur and the use of their bodies in traditional Chinese medicine.
Their Siberian cousins are larger, weighing nearly 1,000 pounds (453.59 kg). Tigers are for the most part solitary hunters and their tremendous bite force allows them to quickly bring down their favorite prey: large animals such as deer and wild boar. Once they bite the prey's throat, the animal cannot escape and suffocates.
9. Spotted hyena (1100 psi)
While they are great hunters, packs of hyenas are also scavengers that don't turn their noses up at eating the kills of other predators. They are also involved in an endless rivalry with lions, as they both hunt the same prey species, occupy the same territories, and regularly steal food from each other.
They have a curved skull and huge jaw muscles that allow them to burst into thick animal bones to eat the marrow inside. Their ability to use bones as additional food sources is one of the reasons hyenas thrive even when prey becomes scarce.
8. Grizzlybeer (1,000 to 1,200 psi)
Everything about the North American grizzly bear is strong. A typical specimen is 2.13 m tall and weighs about 362.87 kg. These omnivorous animals eat everything from fruits and nuts to fish and animals the size of moose.
Grizzly bears can bite through bones, small trees and, according to legend, even cast iron skillets with relative ease.
7. Polar Bear (1200 psi)
Larger than their grizzly cousins, polar bears inhabit the Arctic regions and feed mainly on large prey. This 1,200 plus pounds (544.31 kg)theirare semi-aquatic and their webbed feet make them excellent swimmers.
Polar bears' enormous bite force allows them to get through the thick skin, feathers and blubber of the prey they encounter in their natural habitat. They usually feed onseals, whale carcasses and anything else they can run out of.
6. Gorilla (1300 psi)
Gorillas are covered in muscle, but their particularly thick necks power their bite force. The critically endangered, largest primate species is quite a shy herbivore, despite their incredibly long and intimidating fangs. Check out this article to knowhow strong is a gorilla!
Gorillas eat plants, but much of their diet consists of roots, bamboo shoots and other tough plant material. Their bite force allows them to grind up and consume this type of food, rather than relying on young shoots and fruits.
5. Jaguar (1,500 psi)
Of all the big cats, jaguars have the strongest bite force. Instead of dragging down their prey like other big cats, they attack by grabbing and crushing the skull of their prey in their mouths. Their teeth and jaws are capable of biting through the thick skin of caimans and turtles and crushing the skulls of mammals such as capybaras.
Jaguars are found in North and South American rainforests and typically grow to be 5' to 6' tall (1.52m to 1.82m), have a 0.91m tail and weigh about 113.39kg . .
4. Hippopotamus (1,800 psi)
Of all living mammals, hippos have the strongest bite. They use their massive fangs and incisors to fend off potential predators from their young and fight each other. Hippos are the most dangerous animal in Africa and are responsible for more human deaths each year than any other animal.
Hippo aggression isn't just directed at humans. Although they share the same body of water, they dislike crocodiles and a hippopotamus has been documented to bite a 12-foot crocodile in half.
3. American Alligator (2150 psi)
Alligators are the largest reptile in North America and have an equally large bite force. They can snap their jaws shut incredibly fast, crushing or biting their prey in half. The strength of their jaws comes from the incredibly strong jaw muscles that close the mouth.
Funnily enough, the muscles that open their mouths are ridiculously weak in comparison, and you can keep their mouths closed using just your hands. Alligators mostly feed on fish, wading birds, turtles and small mammals.
2. Great White Shark (4,000 psi)
The great white comes second on the list simply because its bite force is modeled and not tested. aStudy from 2008used X-rays and computer models to determine what a great white shark's bite force would be. It found that a 21-foot (6.40 m) white shark could exert a bite force of about 4,000 psi, making it the strongest bite force of any living animal.
Great white sharks are found around the world in areas such as the northeastern United States, the Pacific Ocean, Australia, and South Africa. They are apex predators, fearful only of larger white sharks and killer whales.
1. Saltwater Crocodile (3,700 psi)
Of all the animals tested, the saltwater crocodile had the highest bite force. The highest reading on the tests was from a 17-foot (5.18 m) saltie that exerted more than 3,700 PSI. You can find out more about the National Geographic surveyhere.
Saltwater crocodiles often reach over twenty feet (6.09 m) in length and weigh over 2,000 pounds (907.18 kg). The largest populations of saltwater crocodiles are found in India, Australia and Southeast Asia.
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Other bite forces
11. Leo (650 psi)
Despite their fearsome reputation and iconic status, lions only have a slightly higher bite force than Mastiff dogs. They rely on hunting in groups, dragging down and suffocating prey, so they never needed a bite force as strong as the solitary tigers and jaguars.
12. Nile crocodile (3,000 - 5,000 psi)
I have found conflicting numbers when it comes to Nile crocodiles. The only study I found used only a 2.43m (8 foot) specimen and extrapolated that a 4.87m (16 foot) specimen would have a bite of about 3,000 PSI. I also found people who thought the bite could be over 5,000 PSI. In the end, it was too murky to include them in the top ten above, but they probably have the strongest bite force behind saltwater crocodiles and great white sharks.
13. Bull Shark (478 psi)
Bull sharks have the strongest bite of all sharks when you take body size into account. They are much smaller than white sharks, reaching typical sizes of 9 feet and about 800 pounds. White sharks of similar size would only becapable of about 360 PSI.
14. Black Piranha (72 psi)
You probably look at the measly 72 PSI bite force of a black piranha and wonder why it was mentioned here. Black piranhas grow to about 30 cm in length and weigh up to about 3.62 kg. Their bite force of 72 PSI is enormous compared to their body weight, and this measurement came from a fish that weighed only about 2 ½ pounds (1.13 kg).
15. Tasmanian Devil (200 psi)
Tasmanian devils are thought to have the strongest bite force of any animal when you take the size of the animal into account. They weigh only 20 pounds (9.07 kg), but can exert 553 Newtons when biting. They have the highest Bite Force Quotient (BFQ) of any living animal.
**Bite force quotient in simple terms is an animal's bite force in newtons divided by its body weight in kilograms.
16. Orka's (19,000 psi)
Although also untested, a killer whale could theoretically exert 19,000 psi of bite force. This is mainly due to their enormous size, as they can weigh up to six tons (6096.28 kg) and grow to thirty feet (9.14 m) in length. Most of the evidence is based on simulations, theory, and captive whale studies, so it didn't deserve a spot on the list.
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Strongest bite force per type of animal
- Hippopotamus (1,800 psi)
- Jaguar (1,500 psi)
- Gorilla (1,300 psi)
- Polar Bear (1200 psi)
- Spotted Hyena (1100 psi)
- Saltwater crocodile (3,700 psi)
- Alligator (3,000-ish psi)
- American Alligator (2,150 psi)
- Bijtschildpad (1,000+ dogs)
- Komodo Reserve (500-600 psi)
- Humbolt squid (theoretical, 6,000 psi)
- Great White Shark (4,000 psi)
- Mako Shark (3,000 psi)
- Bull Shark (478 psi)
- Tiger Shark (300 psi)
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Human bite force: comparison with humans
On average, people canforce between 120 and 160 psiwith their jaws. In simple pounds of force, we can exert up to 270 pounds (122.47 kg). In general, men can exert a higher bite force than women. Usually, our bite force is determined by how well our teeth are aligned, how strong our teeth are, our diet, and several other factors.
Compared to most of the animal kingdom, our bite force is incredibly weak. Despite this, it is quite efficient and powerful compared to the structure of our skulls and muscles.
One of the reasons people don't have higher bite forces is our diet. Some timebetween 1.8 million years ago and 400,000 years ago, we started to cook our food. This not only made food easier to digest, but also much easier to chew, break apart and swallow.
Of course we have also developed the use of tools. We used rocks to crack open nuts and pounded hard roots and plants to make them easier to eat. That removed the need for our jaws to smash through these food sources.
As a result, we simply didn't need to be able to bite as hard as other animals that have to shred and shred prey or chew tough plants and shells.
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What about dinosaurs?
Some of the largest and most powerful creatures to ever roam the Earth are now extinct. Apex predator dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus Rex and unrivaled marine predators like the megalodon had incredibly strong jaws and crushing bite forces.
How would we know?
You may be wondering, if these animals are extinct, how can we have any idea of their bite force? The same kind of computer modeling and anatomical knowledge that we use today to determine the bite force of animals such as great white sharks can be applied to dinosaurs.
We can generally look at fossils and determine where muscles were anchored on their skeletons by extrapolating data from currently living animals in the same line of evolution. Taking this into account with data on skull structure, bone and tooth density, and muscle size, we can get a reasonable estimate of the bite force of an extinct animal.
Strongest dinosaur bite force
The now-extinct relative of modern piranhas, mega piranha grew to about thirty pounds. Like his ancestors who live among us today, he had an incredibly strong bite for his size. In theory, megapiranha was capable of a bite between 279 and 1,067 psi.
Megalodon is an extinct shark species that grew to be between 12 and 18 meters long. The shark probably weighed more than thirty tons and fed mainly on whales and other extinct huge marine mammals. Most data on megalodon is an extrapolation based on their teeth, and since white sharks are close relatives, these estimates are likely accurate.
Megalodon is estimated to have a bite force of between 20,000 and 40,000 psi, depending on how large an individual had grown.
The infamous T-rex probably has one of the strongest overall bite powers of any land animal that has ever existed. Their jaws were capable of aforce of over 35,000 psi. This would have been especially helpful in taking out the large megafauna it lived with and hunted.
And the strongest known bite force of the entire animal kingdom is…. The Crocodile -- specifically, the Saltwater Crocodile (the highest recorded “live” bite of 3700 PSI) and the Nile Crocodile (estimated 4000-5000 PSI)!What is the strongest bite force in animal kingdom squirrel? ›
What is the bite force of a Squirrel? Gray squirrels have a bite force of around 7,000 pounds per square inch (psi). For comparison, most humans have a bite force around 500 psi. Like other rodents, squirrels' incisors grow constantly throughout their lives.Who has the strongest bite force in the cat kingdom? ›
Jaguars have the strongest jaw muscles of all of the big cats. Their bite force is around 1,500 pounds per square inch, which is about double that of a tiger!What has the strongest bite force in the world by size? ›
The "winners"—saltwater crocodiles—slammed their jaws shut with 3,700 pounds per square inch (psi), or 16,460 newtons, of bite force. By contrast, you might tear into a steak with 150 to 200 psi (890 newtons). Hyenas, lions, and tigers generate around 1,000 psi (4,450 newtons).Which animal has 5000 psi bite force? ›
And the strongest known bite force of the entire animal kingdom is…. The Crocodile -- specifically, the Saltwater Crocodile (the highest recorded “live” bite of 3700 PSI) and the Nile Crocodile (estimated 4000-5000 PSI)!What was the bite force of the T Rex? ›
rex—about 35,000 newtons— or to the puny biting power of humans: 300 newtons. Previous bite force estimates for juvenile T. rexes—based on reconstruction of the jaw muscles or from mathematically scaling down the bite force of adult T. rexes—were considerably less, about 4,000 newtons.Which animal has 10000 bite force? ›
Computers don't lie: T. Rex was shown to have a bite force of over 10,000 pounds per square inch, enough to bite through the head and frill of an adult Triceratops or even (just possibly) penetrate the armor of a full-grown Ankylosaurus.What is the Megalodon bite force? ›
Humans have been measured with a bite force of around 1,317 Newtons (N), while great white sharks have been predicted to be able to bite down with a force of 18,216N. Researchers have estimated that megalodon had a bite of between 108,514 and 182,201N.
Compared with other mammals (like dogs and bears), humans don't have the strongest bite. Scientists measure the amount of pressure exerted by an animal's bite in pounds per square inch (psi). The human bite force is 162 psi.Who has the weakest bite force? ›
The weakest molariform bite force recorded was 667 N, from one of three specimens of Cuvier's dwarf caiman. In comparison, the strongest molariform bite force recorded was 16,414 N, from a specimen of the saltwater crocodile (C. porosus).
The anteater, on the other hand, is one mammal with virtually no bite force. In fact, it can barely move its jaws at all! Anteaters collect ants and other foods by extending a long tongue and drawing it back into their mouths.Who has the fastest bite in the animal kingdom? ›
Dracula ants of the species Mystrium camillae can snap their jaws together so fast, you could fit 5,000 strikes into the time it takes us to blink an eye. This means the blood-suckers wield the fastest known movement in nature, according to a study published this week in the journal Royal Society Open Science.What is the strongest bite in history? ›
In August 1986, Richard Hofmann (b. 1949) of Lake City, Florida, USA, achieved a bite strength of 442 kg (975 lb) for approximately 2 sec in a research test using a gnathodynamometer at the College of Dentistry, University of Florida, USA.What is the strongest thing humans can bite through? ›
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, leading one to question why humans do not have an armor-like hide composed of this amazing organic substance.What animals have a 550 psi bite force? ›
The Tibetan is known for its powerful bite, with a bite force of 550 PSI (per square inch).Which animal has 19000 psi bite force? ›
Orca - 19,000 psi
It has the strongest bite of any animal. Orcas are the reason why Nile and saltwater crocodiles are combined on this list because their bite force is thought to eclipse all of the other contenders for the strongest bite by such a wide margin. Orcas in captivity have a bite force of around 19,000 psi.
"While all of these breeds are incredibly strong, the Kangal takes the top spot as the dog with the strongest bite in the world. With a force that is more than three times that of an average dog, this breed can take down prey much larger than itself.
Godzilla can bite down with a 500k bite force which tears through the bones and flesh of many kaijus it faces. Godzilla has bioluminescence that it uses to, among other things, intimidate or warn foes.What was the bite force of the megalodon in PSI? ›
With a jaw estimated to measure about 9 x 11 feet, scientists have calculated that megalodon's bite force would be about 40,000 pounds per square inch.What was the bite force of a Spinosaurus N? ›
The Spinosaurus has 64 straight, conical teeth and a mouth that was similar to a crocodile. However, its bite power was 19,000 N, and that is nothing compared to the T-Rex.
A medium-sized great white, 2.5m in length and weighing in at 240kg, could bite with a force of 0.3 tonnes. But the largest individuals can exert a massive 1.8 tonnes with their jaws, giving them one of the most powerful bites of any living animal.What animal has the sharpest teeth? ›
1) ORCA - Orcinus Orca
The Orca or Killer Whale is the largest member of the dolphin species family and has the sharpest teeth of all animals. Orcas are predators; they are at the top of the food chain in marine life.
Internet rumors persist that modern-day megalodons exist – that they still swim around in today's oceans. But that's not true. Megalodons are extinct. They died out about 3.5 million years ago.Who has a stronger bite T rex or megalodon? ›
Past megalodon research suggests these giant marine predators, which first appeared around 16 million years ago, could chomp with more than three times the force of T. rex, based on the new figures. The bite force of a megalodon—"just because it was so much larger-bodied—would have been bigger," Bates said.What killed the megalodon? ›
Megalodons succumbed to global cooling due to the shrinking of their habitat, the vanishing of their favorite prey, and competition from other predators 3.5 million years ago.What does 700 psi feel like? ›
7 -- Pressure, in PSI, that a swimmer feels at the bottom of a 16-foot-deep pool. 60-70 -- Water pressure, in PSI, of a typical municipal water system. 70 -- Pressure, in PSI, of the typical human jaw chewing food. More than 700 -- Pressure, in PSI, at which a human can grind his or her teeth at night.How many psi is a wolf bite? ›
Adult gray wolves have an impressive set of teeth, and their jaws are incred- ibly strong. A human's bite force is only about 120 pounds per square inch, and a large domestic dog's is about 320 pounds per square inch—but the bite force of a wolf is almost 400 pounds of pressure per square inch!What has a bite force of 23000 psi? ›
Interestingly enough, by extrapolating this data, the same scientist was able to estimate that prehistoric crocodiles measuring 40 feet would have a bite force of 23,000 PSI! Lucky for us that these monsters went extinct millions of years ago.What is the world's strongest animal? ›
A dung beetle is not only the world's strongest insect but also the strongest animal on the planet compared to body weight. They can pull 1,141 times their own body weight. This is the equivalent of an average person pulling six double-decker buses full of people. Now that's strong!
Polar Bears have the strongest bite force of all bears, with a bite force of 1200 PSI. The Grizzly Bear comes in a close second with a bite force of about 1160 PSI.
According to the Mohs scale, talc, also known as soapstone, is the softest mineral; it is composed of a stack of weakly connected sheets that tend to slip apart under pressure. When it comes to metals, scientists try to measure hardness in absolute terms.What is the bite force of a panda? ›
While giant pandas may look friendly and cuddly, they can be more dangerous than they look. In a recent study involving 151 carnivores, the panda earned 5th place. With a bite force of almost 1300 Newtons, only lions (1315 N), grizzlies (1410 N), tigers (1472 N), and polar bears (1647 N) beat the panda.Who has the strongest teeth in the animal kingdom? ›
The Hardest Teeth
The hardest substance ever discovered in nature is the tooth of a limpet (sea snail). They have a tensile strength between 3 and 6.5 gigapascals, breaking the previous record of spider silk at 1.3 GPa. Limpets need super hard teeth in order to chew the algae off of hard rocks.
Fastest land animal: Cheetah.What is the bite force of a silver squirrel? ›
Squirrels have a bite force of around. 7,000 pounds per square inch 😯😯 Baxter demons.Who has the most painful bite in the animal kingdom? ›
The bullet ant sting scores highest on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, a rating created by entomologist Justin Schmidt, director of the Southwestern Biological Institute, which compares the ouch factors of different insects.What is the PSI of rat? ›
Bite force can be measured in how many pounds per square inch (PSI) the bite applies. Back by the molars, a human's bite force is 162 PSI. Here's how that stacks up to a couple typical neighborhood rodents: Rats: 6,000 PSI.What is the bite force of a great GREY wolf? ›
Adult gray wolves have an impressive set of teeth, and their jaws are incred- ibly strong. A human's bite force is only about 120 pounds per square inch, and a large domestic dog's is about 320 pounds per square inch—but the bite force of a wolf is almost 400 pounds of pressure per square inch!What is the bite force of a GREY Fox psi? ›
The fox could deliver a lot of damage with its bite. It may only have a bite force of 92 psi, but its teeth are incredibly sharp.