Scientists: Black piranha had the most powerful bite of any animal ever

December 22, 2012

Scientists: Black piranha had the most powerful bite of any animal ever

A big bite.

Guillermo Ortí, a professor at George Washington University, has announced that the black piranha is the biting champion of the fish world. Ortí determined the crowned winner by studying the pound for pound biting of many fish. In the end, the black piranha (Serrasalmus rhombeus) came out victorious.

The black piranha is not only the biting king of the fish world; the sea creature is also one of the toughest biters of all other vertebrates as well. Scientists think the black piranha may have not always been the crowned biting champion of the world. It is believed that its cousin, the extinct “megapirahna”, may have packed an even bigger bite and caused more damage to its prey throughout the Amazon basin.

In order to collect all of the data needed for the study, Ortí had to travel to the Amazon to study the black piranha. “It was very exciting to participate in this project, travel one more time to the Amazon to be able to directly measure bite forces in the wild,” he said. “I learned a lot of biomechanics from my colleagues while collecting valuable specimens for my own research.

Ortí’s study, which was recently published in Scientific Reports, found that the black piranha can create a force of up to 320 Newtons, or kilogram per meter per second squared, in its bite. Not only does the salt water fish have a strong bite, it also contains razor sharp teeth that wreak havoc on its prey.

The scientists involved in the study found that the black piranha’s devastating bite is a result of some unique physiological characteristics, including one of a kind jaw bones and extra large muscles. In fact, it was determined that the muscles that work to close the black piranha’s mouth may count for up to two percent of its total weight. Discovery News points out that a 200-pound man with that much jaw muscle would be able to chew a pound of beef in each cheek at the same time.

Ortí also studied fossil records to estimate the force the megapiranha (Megapiranha paranensis) may have had behind its jaws when it swam around on Earth. The study suggested that the extinct megapiranha may have been able to reach 4749 Newtons of force in its jaws. This incredible amount of force made the megapiranha a very deadly predator that could tear up flesh and incinerate bone with the lethal pairing of its razor sharp teeth and extremely strong mouth.

Discovery News points out that while adjusting for differences in body size, the force behind the bite of a great white shark is just one-forth as large as the black piranha. Though many consider the great white shark as the most fearsome biter in the sea, maybe swimmers should be more conscious of the black piranha, whose bite is approximately four times as strong.


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