Which animal has the strongest jaws? © iStock

Which animal has the strongest jaws?

Plenty of animals have a powerful bite, BBC Science Focus checks out who comes out on top.

Asked by: Anonymous


Jaws act a bit like hinges. The force exerted depends on the size, strength and location of the jaw muscles, coupled with how close to the hinge-point you measure (closer gives greater forces). By sticking a force meter between the rear teeth, crocodiles give by far the strongest recorded bites – although they can’t open their jaws very forcefully.

A large male Nile crocodile was filmed biting 22kN – roughly equivalent to the weight of a large car. Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) get a few per cent longer, so should give a stronger bite. But size is so important that even the relatively weak back jaws of great white sharks exert 18kN, according to computer models. And I suspect blue whales will come out top, although no studies have been done and their toothless bite just closes on water.


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.