Jaws & Claws

Jaws & Claws

For living things to survive, they must make a big impact on their world. Generating force is the beginning of a journey that includes getting around on land, moving through air and water, and “taking a bite out of life.”

The first step in this journey? To succeed, you’ve got to feed. So how do living things create the forces needed to grab and bite? Muscles set internal machinery in motion, and joints become the levers that enhance power and speed.

Hands, talons, and claws can grasp with varying amounts of force based on the type and length of their grasping muscles. Some use leverage for pinching, some concentrate tremendous force into a handful of pressure points, and others use springs to deliver a lightning-fast punch.

And when it comes to biting, the strongest contenders fall into two camps. Hard biters have short, thick jaws (like a human or a T. rex), whereas fast biters have long, slender jaws (like a dolphin or a stork.)

Surprisingly, one of the winners of the chomping competition is an extinct fish—the Dunkleosteus. With different muscles used for opening and closing its jaw, its bite was both fast and hard. At 1,200 pounds (540 kg), its bite ranks as one of the strongest of all time!