Jaw blimey! Tiny 33-gram finch found in the Galapagos Islands packs a bite 320 times more powerful than a T-REX, researchers reveal
- Galapagos large ground finch is only six inches long – the size of T-Rex tooth
- But pound for pound, its bite has been found to be 320 times stronger
- Its thick beak wields 16 lbs of force, which is uses to crack open nuts and seeds
A tiny finch weighing scarcely an ounce has jaws more powerful for its size than a mighty T-Rex dinosaur, research has revealed.
At six inches long, the Galapagos large ground finch is about the size of a T-Rex tooth.
But pound for pound, its bite is 320 times stronger than that of its eight-ton distant ancestor.
The proclaimed King of the Dinosaurs would be no match for a finch in a fight, if they were the same size, claim scientists
Scientists analysed the bites of 434 living and dead species and the Galapagos finch had the strongest bite of all in relation to its body size.
Its thick beak packs an impressive 16 lbs of force, which is uses to crack open nuts and crush seeds.
‘The proclaimed King of the Dinosaurs would be no match for a finch in a fight, if they were the same size,’ said study co-author Dr Chris Venditti of the University of Reading.
Lead researcher Dr Manabu Sakamoto, from the University of Reading, added: ‘The image of T-rex with its fierce jaws has helped it become the most iconic of dinosaurs, but our research shows its bite was relatively unremarkable.
‘Bite force was not what gave T-rex its evolutionary advantage, as was previously presumed.
‘Large predators like T-rex could generate enough bite force to kill its prey and crush bone just by being large, not because they had a disproportionately powerful bite.
CHARLES DARWIN’S FINCHES
While studying wildlife on the Galápagos Islands in the 19th century, Charles Darwin noticed finches found across different islands were fundamentally similar, but showed variations in their size, beaks and claws.
This led him to conclude that because of the distance between the islands, the finches must have evolved over time to the different environments they lived in and this ultimately inspired his 1858 theory of evolution by natural selection.
Darwin’s finches only live in islands off the coast of mainland Ecuador.
The finches began as one species and started evolving into separate species an estimated 3 million to 5 million years ago.
‘This counters the idea that an exceptionally strong need for a powerful bite drove these ancient beasts to evolve bone-crushing bite forces.’
The research also suggests that human intelligence may have led us to have such a puny bite compared with other animals, said the scientists.
Evolving a large brain has taken up head space that would otherwise be filled with muscles critical for hard biting.
The study, published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B, found that the bite power of most animals had developed proportionally to evolutionary changes in body size.
Accelerated bursts of bite evolution was seen in some animals such as the Galapagos large ground finch, which developed its phenomenal beak power in less than one million years.
Evolutionary reductions in bite power were more common than increases, said the researchers.
This was especially true of humans, whose bite power had decreased rapidly despite their bodies growing larger over time.
Dr Sakamoto said: ‘An evolutionary trade-off with increasing brain size in humans may be the reason that our bite power is pretty pathetic.
Pound for pound, the bite of the Galapagos large ground finch (pictured) is 320 times stronger than that of a T-Rex. Its thick beak packs an impressive 16 lbs of force, which is uses to crack open nuts and crush seeds
‘Once we learnt to cook food, bite power became even less important. In effect, we evolved the cooking pot as our way of making our food easier to swallow. This is in line with other studies showing that humans chew their food less than other animals.’
Co-author Dr Chris Venditti, also from the University of Reading, said: ‘Our research provides new insight into the latest theories about the speed and drivers of evolution. It also allows us to create some fascinating hypothetical match-ups.
‘The proclaimed King of the Dinosaurs would be no match for a finch in a fight, if they were the same size.’
WHAT KILLED THE DINOSAURS?
Around 65 million years ago non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out and more than half the world’s species were obliterated.
This mass extinction paved the way for the rise of mammals and the appearance of humans.
The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a potential cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event.
The asteroid slammed into a shallow sea in what is now the Gulf of Mexico.
The collision released a huge dust and soot cloud that triggered global climate change, wiping out 75 per cent of all animal and plan species.
Researchers claim that the soot necessary for such a global catastrophe could only have come from a direct impact on rocks in shallow water around Mexico, which are especially rich in hydrocarbons.
Within 10 hours of the impact, a massive tsunami waved ripped through the Gulf coast, experts believe.
Around 65 million years ago non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out and more than half the world’s species were obliterated. The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a potential cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event (stock image)
This caused earthquakes and landslides in areas as far as Argentina.
But while the waves and eruptions were The creatures living at the time were not just suffering from the waves – the heat was much worse.
While investigating the event researchers found small particles of rock and other debris that was shot into the air when the asteroid crashed.
Called spherules, these small particles covered the planet with a thick layer of soot.
Experts explain that losing the light from the sun caused a complete collapse in the aquatic system.
This is because the phytoplankton base of almost all aquatic food chains would have been eliminated.
It’s believed that the more than 180 million years of evolution that brought the world to the Cretaceous point was destroyed in less than the lifetime of a Tyrannosaurus rex, which is about 20 to 30 years.