Researchers measured the bite force of 15 wild black piranhas in the Amazon basin. They found that the force exerted was 320 Newtons, the strongest recorded for any living bony or cartilaginous fish. After adjusting for size, that is about three times the force of an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and more than is estimated for Tyrannosaurus rex.
These findings allowed a conservative estimate of the bite force of an extinct Miocense relative, the giant Megapiranha paranensis: an astounding 1240-4749 Newtons.
The combination of massive muscles and specially-shaped jaws explains this bone-crushing force which allows these piranhas to be apex predators in the Amazon basin.
- Grubich, et al. 2012. Mega-Bites: Extreme jaw forces of living and extinct piranhas (Serrasalmidae). Scientific reports 2:1009. doi:10.1038/srep01009 Accessed at: http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/121220/srep01009/full/srep01009.html
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