Crocodiles Have the Most Powerful Bite Force on Earth

American Alligator.
Photo via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

What animal has the most powerful bite force on Earth? The Siberian tiger? The great white shark? Not quite. The saltwater crocodile, the world’s largest living reptile, has the world’s most powerful bite force.

Saltwater crocs can chomp down at an impressive, 700 pounds per square inch (psi) or 16,460 newtons. In fact, most crocodilians have very strong bites. Just have a look at this crocodilian bite force chart created by Ken Womble and Gregory Erickson of Florida State University.

Bite force of crocodilians in relation to body mass. Graphic by Ken Womble/Gregory Erickson, FSU.

Unlike most animals, the bite force of crocodilians is correlated with their body size rather than their jaw shape and other physical features.

That means ancient crocodilians and crocodyliformes could’ve rivaled predatory dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex, not only in size but in power as well.

Largest crocodyliformes. Graphic by Smokeybjb.
Largest crocodyliformes. Graphic by Smokeybjb.

Certainly, if a large crocodilian like Deinosuchus went up against T. rex at the water’s edge, the T. rex wouldn’t stand a chance. Deinosuchus is estimated to have had a bite force between 18,000 newtons (4,000 lbf) and 102,803 newtons (23,111 lbf). That’s a mind-boggling range of destruction. Even the smaller crocs of today can do a lot of damage, so super-sized crocs would certainly reign terror on prehistoric environments.

Yet, even though they have the most powerful bite force of all living animals, crocodilians have one weakness. They have incredibly weak muscles for opening their jaws. If you were brave (or crazy) enough, you could probably hold a croc’s jaws closed with your bare hands. Probably.

Accident in crocodile show.

We don’t recommend ever putting your hands anywhere near an open crocodile’s mouth – even if there’s some quick cash in it!

Check out some of the biggest crocs ever recorded in the video below: