Bite Force of Humans

Weaker jaws of humans provided more space in the skull for the brain to develop
Weaker jaws of humans provided more space in the skull for the brain to develop, Credit: pexels.com/Oleksandr PidvalnyiClose-Up Shot o
Have you ever wondered why humans have such weak bites compared to other animals? While some animals, like alligators and lions, can chomp down with over 1,000 pounds of force, the average human bite force is only around 200–300 pounds of force. The big difference may seem strange, but there’s a good reason for it. First, let’s talk about how scientists measure bite force . They use a special tool called a “bite force meter ” or  “gnathodynamometer” that attaches to an animal’s jaw. The animal then bites down, and the tool measures the amount of force produced. This allows scientists to compare the bite forces of different animals and learn more about how different traits, such as jaw size and tooth shape, affect bite force.

Animals

Bite Force in psi

The use of high bite force

Humans

120-160 psi

Humans have weak jaws to eat cooked food. Weaker jaws also provide more space for a large brain.

Pitbull

235 psi

As hunting dogs in the past and guard dogs, pitbull can fend off attackers with their bite

Lion

650-1000 psi

Lions can rip through meat and tackle larger prey with their powerful bite.

Hyena

1,100 psi

Hyenas can grip and tear through tough meat and crush bones

Hippo

1,800 psi

Unlike the other animals in this list, hippos use their strong bite to defend against predators

Crocodile

3,700 psi

Crocodiles grab their prey and drown them to perform a rolling action called ‘death roll’ to make pieces of the prey. This is possible with the help of such a huge bite force.

Now, let’s take a closer look at why humans have such weak bites. One reason is that our jaws are smaller compared to other animals. This means that we don’t have as much space for big jaw muscles .

 

Additionally, our teeth are not as sharp and pointy as those of other animals. These factors play a big role in our weaker bite force.

 

However, our molars exert a bite force that beats the likes of primates like orangutans and gibbons, but gorillas and chimpanzees have stronger bites.

 

Although human bite force is quite low, it is quite impressive for primates our size.

 

Just because we have weaker bites doesn’t mean we’re weak overall. Humans have found ways to adapt and overcome our weaker bites. We have developed tools like knives and forks that make cutting and eating food much easier. Our brains have also evolved to allow us to cook our food, which breaks down tough fibers and makes it easier to eat.

 

Another characteristic that makes us unique is our opposable thumbs. This means that our thumbs can touch the tips of our other fingers. This allows us to hold and use tools, which is a big part of what makes us human. We also have highly developed brains, which allow us to think, communicate, and create. In fact, human ancestors had stronger bites than modern humans and losing strength in the jaw through adaptation allowed for more space for the brain, and higher intelligence. These traits have helped us to survive and thrive for thousands of years.

 

Even though we may not have the strongest bites, humans have found other ways to adapt and survive. Next time you’re at the dinner table, don’t feel bad about your weak bite; remember all the ways that humans have found to make up for it. And who knows, maybe one day we may discover some other unique ability we have that surpasses the strength of all other animals’ bites.

Glossary

Bite force: The amount of pressure exerted by an animal’s bite, measured in pounds per square inch (psi).

 

Jaw muscles: The muscles that control the movement of the jaw.

 

Bite force meter: A tool used to measure the amount of force exerted by an animal’s bite.

 

Adaptation: The process of changes in the characteristics of a species to better survive in their environment.

 

Molars: The last pairs of teeth in the human jaw, used for grinding food

 

Primates: Also known as apes, this order of mammals consists of monkeys, lemurs, apes, and also humans

Reading Score: 78.3

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