During a recent study, scientists have come to know that Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) and at least another carnivorous dinosaur species could open their jaws up to 90 degrees wide. On the other hand, according to the scientists, plant-eating breeds of these prehistoric animals had much narrower jaw gape, which suggests that diet and feeding style of dinosaurs used to have close links with how wide those ancient giants could spread their jaws.
Study author Stephan Lautenschlager, a representative of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, said that carnivorous dinosaurs (theropods) like T. rex and Allosaurus often get depicted with remarkably widely-opened jaws. According to him, this is done to emphasize those animals’ carnivorous nature. Lautenschlager added that in spite of such depictions no study to date actually focused on the possible association between dinosaurs’ feeding style, maximum possible jaw gape and their jaw musculature.
During this new study, Lautenschlager and his team used digital models created based on computer analyses and fossils. The team recreated the muscle strains that occurred when the dinos opened their jaws.
Here, it must be mentioned that other than looking at T. rex, the study also checked another massive prehistoric carnivore called Allosaurus fragilis and a plant-eating dino called Erlikosaurus andrewsi. The plant eater made a really interesting pick as it was closely related to carnivore dinos, but didn’t consume meat itself.
The study revealed that the maximum jaw gape of the herbivore was only of 45 degrees. Lautenschlager said that every muscle including the ones used to open and close the jaw can be stretched up to a certain point before they get torn. According to the scientist, this limits an animal’s ability of opening its jaws considerably; as a result, it also acts as a deciding factor for an animal’s feeding habit and the eating procedure adopted by it.
It’s a known fact that human evolutions benefited significantly from invention of cooking and a range of other food processing methods. Thos inventions give us the opportunity of eating different kinds of food in spite of not having any striking jaw skill.
The researchers also found that T. rex possesses the most constant bite force among all dino species. It’s a quality that allowed it to easily rip through skin and flesh of the prey and then crush its bone.