Which animals have the strongest bite?

The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has the highest bite force of any living animal. (Image credit: DianaLynne via Getty Images)

Tyrannosaurus rex and megalodon are recurring sci-fi stars for a reason: their bites were ferocious. But which extinct and living creatures actually exert the strongest bite force?

Bite force, according to a study published in Limits (opens in new tab), is the force generated by the muscles and bones of the upper and lower jaw when an animal bites. Animals with strong bite forces usually have no problem pinning down struggling prey. Some predators are even able to break through prey with particularly strong armor.

Of all the creatures living today, the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has the strongest known bite force, at 16,460 newtons (newtons measure the magnitude of force), a 2012 study in the journal PLOS One (opens in new tab) found it. For comparison, 1 newton is equal to about a quarter pound of force. Anything that enters the jaws of a saltwater crocodile is subjected to extreme force during its dying sighs.

Paleobiologist Gregory M. Erickson measures the bite force of an alligator. (Image credit: Photo by: Gregory M. Erickson via Florida State University)

There are two contenders that can challenge – and possibly beat – the crocodile, but their bite forces have not been measured in a live setting because these animals are aquatic predators. If confirmed, the strongest bite force could be that of the orca (Orcinus killer whale), estimated at 84,516 newtons by the Dutch Shark Association (opens in new tab)followed in the distance by the bite force of a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), at about 18,000 newtons, according to computer models used in a 2008 study published in the Journal of zoology (opens in new tab).

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