Well, as if there was much doubt in any of our minds, but still… it is sometimes up to the geeks and nerdlings over at ScienceDaily.com to confirm the obvious.
As the article sets out, Greg Erickson, a Florida State University biology professor, and along with several colleagues, including Florida State biology professors Scott Steppan and Brian Inouye, and graduate student Paul Gignac have been pondering a particularly painful-sounding question: How hard do alligators and crocodiles bite?
“The answer is a bite force value of 3,700 pounds for a 17-foot saltwater crocodile (as well as tooth pressures of 350,000 pounds per square inch). That’s the highest bite force ever recorded — beating a 2,980-pound value for a 13-foot wild American alligator Erickson’s lab measured in 2005. They estimate that the largest extinct crocodilians, 35- to 40-foot animals, bit at forces as high as 23,100 pounds.”
Erickson and his colleagues reported their findings in the journal PLoS One.
Over the 11 years that his current study took place in both the United States and Australia, Erickson and his team roped 83 adult alligators and crocodiles, strapped them down, placed a bite-force device between their back teeth and recorded the bite force. An engineering calculation was then used to estimate the force generated simultaneously by the teeth nearest the front of the jaws. The team molded the teeth with dentist’s dental putty, made casts and figured out the contact areas.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… or at least I know what I was thinking when I read the article. “These guys are nuts!”
As Erickson describes it: “I have to admit, the first time I placed our meter into the maw of an adult crocodile, I was nervous. It was all over in the blink of an eye. When it struck, it nearly wrested my grip from the handle. The noise of the jaws coming together was like a gunshot. The power of the animal was astounding, and the violence of the event frightening.”
“If you can bench-press a pickup truck, then you can escape a croc’s jaws,” Erickson warned. “It is a one-way street between the teeth and stomach of a large croc.”
Yeah, nuttiness confirmed, all right.
Thank goodness for such adventuresome science nerds. Without them, our world would be a less rich, less fact-filled place.
 Credit: Image courtesy of Florida State University.