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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
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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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