A description of Deinonychus antirrhopus bite marks and estimates of bite force using tooth indentation simulations

Paul M. Gignac, Peter J. Makovicky, Gregory M. Erickson, Robert P. Walsh

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28 Scopus citations


We report the discovery of a specimen of Tenontosaurus tilletti from the Cloverly Formation that bears lesions we interpret as bite marks of Deinonychus antirrhopus. Some of the bite marks are in the form of exceptionally deep punctures through the long bone cortices. These provide a rare opportunity to estimate the bite-force capacities of this taxon through tooth indentation simulations. These experiments showed that approximately 4100 N of bite force were required to generate one of the bite marks, and 8200 N would have been generated simultaneously at a distal-most tooth position. These values are higher than those reported for large carnivoran mammals but similar to values recorded for comparably sized crocodilians. Although current evidence does not indicate how D. antirrhopus actually used its claws and teeth to acquire prey resources, it is clear that large individuals were capable of generating forces great enough to bite through bone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1169-1177
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
FMNH PR 2261 was excavated under Bureau of Land Management permit 02–WY–70 to P.J.M., and we are grateful to D. Hanson for permitting assistance. We thank the 2003 FMNH field crew (M. Brown, S. Fox, L. Herzog, A. Shinya, R. Vodden, and Zooey) for collecting the specimen. FMNH PR 2261 was discovered and prepared by A. Shinya and L. Herzog. We thank J. Weinstein (FMNH) for specimen photos. Field work was supported by generous donations from Liz Meeker and Michael and Jacqueline Ferro through the Field Museum Women’s Board. We thank Fauquier’s Finest Country Butcher Shop (Bealeton, VA) for donating bovine bone and M. Locke for supplying transverse images of Bison bison femora. We thank D. Brinkman for access to YPM fossil material and P. A. Gignac for manufacturing nickel alloy D. antirrhopus tooth replicas. We additionally thank A. M. Gignac, J. Pfaller, A. Prieto-Marquez, V. Toplosky, and our panel of reviewers and our editor for their insight and feedback. This research was partially funded from grants from the National Science Foundation EAR0418649 to G.M.E. and P.J.M. and DBI0446224 to G.M.E.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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