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Extinct Megapiranha Bite Force Outperforms T-Rex : Study

Dec 21, 2012 05:29 AM EST
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The black piranha and the extinct megapiranha have the most powerful bite compared to other carnivorous fish either living or extinct, reveals a new study.

The extinct megapiranha lived between 6 million and 10 million years ago during the Miocene period. Researchers have found that the extinct species possessed a strong bite force that outperformed ancient monsters like the tyrannosaurus rex (T-Rex), whale-eating shark and the Devonian placoderm, in relation to their body size and weight.

To understand the bite force of the megapiranha, researchers examined the modern-day black piranha, smallest relative of the extinct fish species, that lives in Brazil's Amazon River basin.

Guillermo Ortí, one of the study authors from George Washington University, and his colleagues collected 15 black piranhas, during an expedition to the Xingu and Iriri rivers in Amazonia in 2010. Weighing just around 2 pounds on an average, the black piranhas are the largest species of all carnivorous piranhas.

Although black piranhas possess small body size, they have razor-sharp teeth that help them to bite chunks of bony fins and feed on prey that are much larger than them.

When the research team measured the bite force of the species, they found that the black piranhas exert a bite force that is about 35 times greater than its body weight, reports LiveScience.

The powerful bite force is achieved "due to the large muscle mass of the black piranha's jaw and the efficient transmission of its large contractile forces through a highly modified jaw-closing lever," said the researchers.

Using data on jaw structure and size of the black piranha, the research team was able to reconstruct the bite force of the megapiranha. Depending on the weight, the bite force of the extinct species could range from nine to 50 times its weight, the LiveScience report said.

Researchers are now focusing on reconstructing the family tree of fish including piranhas, using their genomic data.

The findings of the study are published in the Nature's journal Scientific Reports.

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