Pound For Pound, Humans May Have The Strongest Bite Force In Nature

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Who has the strongest bite force in nature? And how do human beings compare? The answer may surprise you. First, a list of the top ten strongest bites in nature (with pounds per square inch bite force in parentheses), then a discussion of where humans might fall on that list.

#10 Bear (975 psi)

A Grizzley Bear in Alaska with a bite force of 975 PSIBears have very strong teeth that they use in their omnivorous diet for whatever may come along: meat, fish, nuts.

#9 Alligator Snapping Turtle (1000 psi)

Alligator snapping turtles are predators that rule the ponds and rivers where they live. They need to be able to bite down quick and hard to kill their prey in a single bite--without teeth.

#8 Tiger (1050 psi)

Tigers are predators that rely on their killing bite to bring down large prey by crushing their windpipe. This takes a lot of force when you're trying to bring down a buffalo!

#7 Hyena (1100 psi)

Hyena are not only hunters, they're bone-crunching scavengers, which is why they need such a strong bite. This allows them to eat their prey almost completely, leaving little or nothing behind.

#5 Bull Shark (1250 psi)

The champion biter among sharks is not the great white, the largest predatory shark and star of Jaws, its the much smaller bull shark, whose more efficient bite delivers more force over the area of their bite.

#5 Gorilla (1300 psi)

Gorillas have teeth adapted to grinding their mostly vegetarian diet. However, adult silverbacks (male gorillas) sometimes use their teeth in combat when fighting for dominance with a rival, and these fights can be to the death.

#4 Jaguar (1350 psi)

Jaguars use their teeth to pierce the skull of their prey, jugular veins, or even turtle shells. They also use their jaws to hold their prey as they drag it up into trees to eat in safety and solitude.

#3 Hippopotamus (1825 psi)

You wouldn't think you'd need a bite this strong to consume a hippo's diet of grass, but, apparently they do! They're vicious killer animals, one of the most deadly in Africa and the world.

#2 American Alligator (2125 psi)

This predator of the swamp waits for its prey to approach, then leaps up and snags it. The prey is then dragged underwater and drowned. To make sure the prey doesn't escape, the alligator needs a very strong bite.
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#1 Crocodile (3700 psi)

The crocodile is closely related to the alligator and uses the same tactics, but it's larger, and hunts larger prey, so there's no surprise that it's larger.

Where Do Humans Fit on the List?

So how do human beings compare to the bites on this list. In the past, human bite force has been considered to be relatively weak, but new analysis suggests that they are just a little behind that of the gorilla, producing a bite force of up to 1300 N on the second molar, which, if my calculations are right, equates to about 980 psi on the molars alone, although it's less when distributed throughout the entire mouth.
This theoretical bite force is much more than is typically measured for the human bite, which may be in part because people generally only achieve a full bite during episodes of bruxism (teeth clenching).
According to Dr. Kevin Berry, a neuromuscular dentist in Denver, Colorado, "People bite down two or three times harder during night bruxism than they do during conscious biting. That's why we see so much damage to teeth and to the temporomandibular joint [the jaw joint]. Bruxism is a leading cause of TMJ [temporomandibular joint disorder], and since it happens at night many people might not even be aware of it."
Just as many people are unaware that their bite may be one of the most powerful in the animal kingdom.

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Pound For Pound, Humans May Have The Strongest Bite Force In Nature

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