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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Megapiranha Outchomps T. Rex
20 December 2012 9:00 am
Pound-for-pound, an ancient relative of today's piranhas had a stronger bite than gators, sharks, and even the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex. That's the conclusion of field studies carried out on the black piranha (Serrasalmus rhombeus), the largest living species in the carnivorous clan (skeleton). The largest of the 15 fish tested, a 1.1-kilogram specimen measuring almost 37 centimeters long, clamped down on researchers' test equipment with a force almost 30 times its own weight—a ratio unmatched among vertebrates, researchers reveal online today in Scientific Reports. Extrapolating 10 million years back, the team estimates that the jaw-tip bite force of the black piranha's extinct relative—Megapiranha paranensis, which might have reached lengths of about 1.3 meters and weighed up to 73 kilograms—could have been as high as 484 kilograms. Previous studies have calculated the bite force of T. rex to be almost three times that of Megapiranha, but it's important to note, the researchers say, that T. rex was more than 100 times heftier. Not only were Megapiranha's teeth fringed with tiny serrations, unlike the teeth of their modern-day kin, but they also had stout circular roots—a combination that rendered them sharp enough to slice flesh yet sturdy enough to crush the shells of turtles and pierce the armor plates of catfish that lived in the same ecosystem.
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