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The animal kingdom is filled with jaws built to crush and razor-sharp teeth. Movies like Jaws and Jurassic Park have served up graphic visuals of champion chompers, ripping through bone and flesh with ease. In the present day, there are several toothy creatures who could accomplish such a task but reserve their chomp downs for the prey they hunt. If you’ve ever wondered about who has the strongest jaws out there, there’s a scientific way to measure “bite force”, using a unit called pounds per square inch, or psi. This effectively measures the pressure with which an animal slams its jaws shut. Humans have a bite force of around 160 psi. Compare that to some of the strongest, sharpest bites in the wild.

Saltwater crocodiles
India is home to three species of crocodiles — the mugger, the gharial, and the most ferocious of the lot, the saltwater crocodile. Saltwater crocs have one of the most powerful bites in the animal kingdom, with a bite force of 3,700 psi. These massive beasts can weigh up to a 1,000 kilograms and measure nearly six metres in length. Add to that incredibly strong jaw muscles and 66 large, sharp teeth, and you get an apex predator that is capable of clamping its jaws shut with such tremendous force, that it can take down animals as large as wild boar and buffalo. In India, these stealthy creatures are found in the mangrove forests of Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and other parts of eastern India like Odisha.

Like humans, new-born tigers first develop “milk teeth”, which they lose as they grow older. The new set of “permanent” teeth that replace them are sharper and longer, and aid them in killing and consuming prey.  Cover photo: Saltwater crocodiles use their sharp teeth to tear open captured prey. If they lose a couple in the process, it’s never a problem as they can regrow their teeth throughout their lives.

Like humans, new-born tigers first develop “milk teeth”, which they lose as they grow older. The new set of “permanent” teeth that replace them are sharper and longer, and aid them in killing and consuming prey.
Cover photo: Saltwater crocodiles use their sharp teeth to tear open captured prey. If they lose a couple in the process, it’s never a problem as they can regrow their teeth throughout their lives.

Hyenas
Hyenas may look significantly smaller than many predatory mammals, but their jaws are stronger than some large cats. With a vice-like grip and teeth that can tear through bone and tough meat, hyenas have a bite force of around 1,100 psi. Striped hyenas, the kind we see in India, are mainly scavengers, but are also known to hunt their own prey. With jaws like that, they can tear through carcasses with ease.

Bengal tiger
The Bengal tiger dominates the food chain in many of India’s forests. The mighty cat is an adept hunter, stalking its prey and then striking with precision. Bengal tigers often immobilize prey like deer by delivering a swift bite to the throat. The cats have razor-sharp canines, which can measure nearly four inches in length, and a strong bite force of 1,050 psi. Once trapped in a tiger’s powerful jaws, it’s nearly impossible for smaller animals to escape.

Barracudas are ferocious predators that hunt in packs. They rely on both, speed and their fang-like sharp teeth to hunt.

Barracudas are ferocious predators that hunt in packs. They rely on both, speed and their fang-like sharp teeth to hunt.

Barracuda
The tropical seas surrounding India are home to several species of barracuda. The predatory fish swim in large swirling schools, swarming around their prey and hunting swiftly. Barracudas are long, slender fish with a pointy jaw and a mouth full of extremely sharp teeth. The species are known to have two, and sometimes even three rows of dagger-sharp teeth, with which they can easily tear through the flesh of other sea creatures. Coming face to face with a grinning barracuda while diving can be a rather startling experience.

Malavika Bhattacharya
Malavika Bhattacharya

is a travel and culture journalist always looking for an excuse to head into a forest or an ocean. Find her work at www.malavikabhattacharya.com.

Dhritiman Mukherjee
Dhritiman Mukherjee

is one of India's most prolific wildlife and conservation photographers. His work has been featured in leading publications. He is also a RoundGlass Ambassador, and an RBS Earth Hero awardee.

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