Bite force can be measured in: PSI (The pound per square inch), newtons and BFQ (Bite force quotient). In this article, we will use the force of a bite measured in newtons, or otherwise we may end up with the Tasmanian devil beating tigers, sharks and other species…
Felis catus, or as we all know it — the domestic cat. The earliest indication of a tamed cat comes from 9,500 years ago, from southern Cyprus. These animals became our companions for their great ability to hunt rodents, mostly by ambushing them. Cats are the great hunters with their teeth adapted for killing prey and tearing its meat. Their long canine teeth are used to deliver a lethal neck bite that will cause an irreversible paralysis. The average weight of an adult domestic cat is 4-5 kg (9 and 11 lb), 23-25 cm (9-10 in) in height.
The bite force of our beloved cats is only 56 newtons.
The bobcat or the red lynx, it is a medium-sized wild cat that resides from southern Canada to northern Mexico. Maybe it does look like a bigger version of a domesticated cat, but in the reality it’s an adaptable predator about thrice as large as the cat. This animal lives a solitary lifestyle and is very territorial. Lynxe’s ration mostly consists of insects, birds, rabbits and deer. But they are also capable of hunting prey up to eight times their own weight. The adult bobcat is 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in) at the shoulders and weights from 6.4 to 18.3 kg (14 to 40lb).
Bobcat’s bite force is 98 newtons.
3. Lar gibbon
Or as it may also be known — the white-handed gibbon. It’s a brachiator that is propelling itself at the speed of up to 55 km/h (34 mph), going as far as 15 m (50 ft) by swinging under the branches using its arms. Speaking about the arms, they have made this animal famous, since they are extremely long and on average are 1.5 times longer than its legs, while it’s still being one of the highest of the primates (85 cm / 2.78871 ft).
Around 50% of the lar gibbon’s diet consists of fruits, 29% of leaves, 13% insects and 9% of flowers. Its dental formula or the teeth arrangement is the same as in humans, giving a Lar Gibbon a bite force of 136 newtons.
“Man’s best friend”, the dogs are domesticated wolf-like animals, that were probably the first that humans tamed. They became our companions around 40,000 years ago, and today all of the dog breeds share a common wolf ancestor. It is a predator and a scavenger with powerful jaws and well developed muscles. Dogs are variable in height and weight, both of which depend on their breed. And so the smallest dog came from a breed of a Yorkshire Terrier, that weighed 113 grams (4 ounces). The biggest known dog came from a breed of a Saint Bernard, which weighed 167.6 kg (369 1⁄2 lb).
In the study of a dog’s bite force that we took the information from, were used the dogs in the size from 7 to 55 kg. The mean result for more than 22 pet dogs was 256 newtons and a median of 163 newtons.
4. Redeye piranha
Known as the black piranha, white piranha, spotted piranha or yellow piranha, it’s one of the largest of its species with the maximum measured length of 41.5 cm (16.3 in) and a maximum weight of 3.0 kg (6.6 lb). Redeye piranha is a freshwater ray-finned fish that can be found in the northern South America, where it prefers to live in the large, deep river channels. Piranhas are opportunistic and omnivorous feeders which will eat plants, fruits, and animals smaller than themselves, they won’t also lose an opportunity to nip scales and fins off other fishes.
This species lives a solitary life and depends on its strength of bite, the absolute force of which is 320 newtons.
5. Red fox
Red fox is the largest species of the genus Vulpes (foxes). The average adult is 35-50 cm (14-20 in) high at the shoulder and 45-90 cm (18-35 in) long, with their tails being longer than half of the body, measuring 30-55.5 cm (11.8-21.9 in). Weights range from 2.2–14 kg (5–31 lb). Red fox is widely spread in Eurasia, North America, Australia and in the northern part of Africa. Foxes are considered harmful to Australia’s native mammals and birds, and are included to the list of the world’s 100 worst invasive species.
This animal mostly feeds on rabbits, reptiles, small rodents and ungulates. Sometimes fruit and vegetable matter is also being eaten. A maximum mean red fox’s bite force is measured to be 430 newtons.
The leopard is a member of the Felidae family and is widely represented in sub-Saharan Africa, some can be found in Western and Central Asia, Indian subcontinent. Melanistic leopard is also called a black panther. These animals have short legs and a long body with a large skull. When hunting, leopards can reach a speed of 58 kilometers per hour (36 mph).
Leopards are sexually dimorphic and males are larger and heavier than females: males weigh 37-90 kg (82-198 lb), females 28-60 kg (62-132 lb). Leopards are getting larger without a natural competition in the area of their living, thus in 1913, an Algerian newspaper reported a leopard measure about 275 cm (9 ft) in total length, which is of a size of a fully grown lion (266-311 cm or 8.7-10.2 ft).
The bite force of a leopard is 964 newtons.
7. Human (for comparison)
Wikipedia defines humans (Homo sapiens) as a species of highly intelligent primates, that have much smaller and short teeth, relatively flush canine teeth than other primates. However, the analysis of human skulls, made by Stephen Wroe, have revealed that we are far from being week. And that our bite force is higher than the orangutan, gibbon and Australopithecus.
The maximum bite force of a human (Homo sapiens) is 1.300 newtons.
Gorillas are ground-dwelling predominantly herbivorous apes, that inhabit the forest of central Sub-Saharan Africa. They are our very close relatives, since humans share from 95% to 99% of genetic code with these animals, which are very smart and are able to display many human-like behaviours and emotions, such as laughter and sadness. Gorillas are also the largest of the great apes: males 136-227 kg (300-500 lb), females weight 68-113 kg (150-250 lb). And very tall: males are 1.4-1.8 m (4 ft 7 in to 5 ft 11 in), female gorillas are 1.25 to 1.5 m (4 ft 1 in to 4 ft 11 in).
Wild gorillas eat only plants and fruits, alongside with the insects, they don’t eat meat like some chimpanzees do. And gorillas jaws are capable of generating a force of 1.723 newtons, which is a bit higher from chimpanzee (1.511 N).
9. Giant panda
Panda, panda bear or the giant panda is a bear native to south central China that lives mainly in temperate forests high in the mountains. Pandas are herbivorous that specialize in eating leaves, thus called folivores. In the wild, they subsist almost entirely on bamboo, and they must eat around 11.7-38.1 kg (26-84 pounds) of it every day. Which is roughly 1/3 of their body mass: 100 to 115 kg (220 to 254 lb) for the adults.
The bite force of a Panda is 2.603 newtons.
The lion (Panthera leo) is a member of the family Feliday, or simply the cats. They are sexually dimorphic, with males being larger than females: males 160-184 cm (63-72 in), females 160-184 cm (63-72 in). These admired symbols of courage and strength were inhabiting most of Eurasia, Africa and North America in the Ice age (2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago), but today their presence has been reduced to fragmented populations in Africa and one population in western India.
Lions are one of the biggest cats, in fact, they’re second in size only to tigers. And they are the only cats that live in groups, in which females are the one who mostly hunt, while males protect their territory. Lion’s big size and a powerful skull, coming with a not less powerful jaw, gives this animal a bite force of 4.168 newtons.
11. Bull Shark
The bull shark, also known as the zambi, most commonly found in warm, shallow waters along coasts and rivers worldwide, where they are hunting for almost anything they see: fish, dolphins, even other sharks. They may also survive in the freshwater and even venture far inland via rivers and tributaries. Bull sharks are responsible for the majority of near-shore shark attacks.
This animal is large and stout, sexually dimorphic with females being larger than males. Adult females average 2.4 m (7.9 ft) long and typically weigh 130 kg (290 lb), while males grow up to 2.25 m (7.38 ft) in length and weight 95 kg (209 lb). This creature continually shed its teeth, approximately 35,000 teeth in a lifetime. Which are they key factor to its hunting and killing successes, same as the bite force of 5.914 newtons, which is the highest among all investigated cartilaginous fishes.
The hippopotamus is a large herbivorous “river horse”, according to the Greeks. This animal spends around 16 hours a day in the water, just to cool itself and to hide from the hot African sun. Despite its short legs and an average weight of 1,400 kg (3086 lb), hippo is capable of running 30 km/h (19 mph). It is also a great swimmer that can hold its breath for up to five minutes under the water. Hippos spend most of their life in the lakes, rivers and mangrove swamps, from which they come out at dusk to graze on grasses.
Males of this species are extremely territorial and unpredictable, they may fight over the place in the water but won’t feel territorial on the land. It is one of the most dangerous animals in the world due to its unpredictable aggression and a very big strength. So if hippo is a herbivorous, then why does it have such large canines and incisors? These nature’s weapons are only used for combat and play no role in feeding.
Hippo’s bite force is 8.100 newtons.
And here we come with another big cat, the tiger (Panther tigris). It is best known for the dark vertical stripes on its orange-brown fur with a lighter underside. It is a territorial predator, mostly living a solitary life. Tiger needs large contiguous areas of habitat, where it will search for the prey and raise its offspring, tiger mainly preys on ungulates such as deer and wild boar. This animal is listed as an endangered species on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, since its population vary from 4600 to 5500 adult individuals.
Tiger has a large body, there is also a notable sexual dimorphism between males and females. Usually males weighing up to 1.7 times more than females: males weigh between 90-300 kg (200 and 660 lb), while females weigh 65 to 167 kg (143 to 368 lb). One interesting fact about tiger, is that its tail is about half the length of its body, which they use as a rudder, when jumping, or as something that helps tigers to maintain their balance while climbing. Also, it can be used to communicate with each other.
The work called “Bite Force Estimation…” measures a bite force of a tiger to be 8.924 newtons, generated by its carnassial notch.
14. Great white shark
The great white shark, it can be found in cool, coastal waters of all the major oceans. It’s the biggest predatory fish on Earth, with the largest female individuals growing to 6.1 m (20 ft) in length and 1,905-2,268 kg (4,200-5,000 lb) in weight at maturity. But most of them are usually smaller: males 3.4 to 4.0 m (11 to 13 ft) in length, females 4.6 to 4.9 m (15 to 16 ft). But such an enormous size doesn’t make it slow, since this fish is streamlined, torpedo-shaped and has a very strong tail. All these specs allow the great white shark to reach a speed of 25 km/h (16 mi/h).
The great white sharks have 300 serrated, triangular teeth arranged in several rows behind the main ones, ready to replace any that break off. They help them to eat other sharks, molluscs, seals and even sea birds. When the shark bites, it shakes its robust, large, conical snout side-to-side, helping the teeth to saw off large chunks of flesh. Around 82 shark attacks are happening annually, most of them are not fatal, but a third to a half are attributed to great white sharks.
The great white shark was pictured as a ruthless, bloodthirsty predator in the movie “Jaws”, which perfectly resembles its bite force of 18,216 newtons.
15. Saltwater crocodile
The saltwater crocodile is the Earth’s largest living crocodilian native to saltwater habitats and brackish wetlands. The saltwater crocodiles, or as they sometimes called “Salties”, are spread across the regions of eastern India, Southeast Asia, and northern Australia. It is the largest living reptile known to science, the average size of males is 6 m (20 ft) in length and they weight about 1,000-1,300 kg (2,200-2,900 lb). Females are significantly smaller and rarely surpass 3 m (10 ft).
Saltwater crocodiles are opportunistic predators, they will ambush their prey in the water and then explode to grab their victim with their powerful jaw. The most likely fate of theirs caught prey is to be swallowed whole, or either to be drown in the jaws of this absolute hunting machine. These reptiles will eat almost any living organism that will fall into their jaw, including: water buffalo, turtles, monkeys, wild boar, large mud crabs and even sharks. They vary their prey selection according to availability, and to their own size, so the bigger the saltwater crocodile gets, the bigger gets its prey.
Saltwater crocodile’s bite force is the 34,424 newtons.
Here’s a table to sum it all up
|Domestic cat||56 newtons|
|Lar gibbon||136 newtons|
|Redeye piranha||320 newtons|
|Red fox||430 newtons|
|Human (for comparison)||1.300 newtons|
|Giant panda||2.603 newtons|
|Bull Shark||5.914 newtons|
|Great white shark||18.216 newtons|
|Saltwater crocodile||34.424 newtons|