Two recent studies have revealed that teeth today just aren’t what they used to be. 200 million years ago earth was home to the strongest bite and sharpest teeth in its history.
The world’s sharpest teeth belonged to the now extinct conodonts. These eel-like creatures were only two-inches long and seemingly harmless… until they opened their mouths. The points of the conodont teeth were a mere two micrometers across, putting today’s sharks and eels to shame. In the latest issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B, paleobiologist Phillip Donoghue and his research team reveal that instead of chewing up and down like today’s most ferocious carnivores, conodonts actually sliced their food left and right. Using their extremely sharp teeth these little eels only had to exert a minimal force to cut up food that would’ve otherwise required quite large jaw muscles.
Another research team has revealed that the world’s most ferocious bite was that of the Deinosuchus riograndensis, an ancient ancestor of the crocodile. The team came to this conclusion after they measured the bite force of all living Crocodilians and found that bite strength is directly correlated to body size and not the size and shape of the jaw. Using this information they calculated that the 11m long and 3,450 kg Deinosuchus would’ve had a bite force of 102,803 Newtons or 23,000 lbs. The Tyrannosaurus Rex, by comparison, would’ve only bit at a maximum of 60,000 Newtons. Today the crocodile is still the hardest biting creature on the planet. Compared to the Deinosuchus, however, the saltwater crocodile’s 16,414 Newton chomp seems pretty mild.
Though we Homo sapiens may not be setting any world records with our teeth, it’s still important that we receive a bi-annual dental checkup and cleanings of the measly 700 Newton bites we’ve got.