The news broke yesterday that Beyonce was bitten on the face by an, as of yet, undisclosed Hollywood actress. The good news? Beyonce is okay. Her face is unmarked. She was a “bit” taken aback by the drive-by face-masticator but she’s okay, she’s still being a total badass and all that.
But what would happen if it wasn’t a human that bit Beyonce? What if it was a T-Rex?
No, seriously, bear with me – this is Today I Discovered and, after being bored with the speculation about #WhoBitBeyonce, I decided it was time to really investigate what biting Beyonce could look like. I started looking at the biting force that various animals can produce. Humans rate pretty poorly, with our average bite force hovering somewhere around the 150-200 pounds per square inch (PSI) mark.
That could do some damage, sure. Mike Tyson’s chompers found a meal in Holyfield’s outer ear. Luis Suarez vied not for Golden Boots, but for the title of “Soccer’s Hannibal Lecter” for a few years there. Notable internet celebrity Charlie was also a biter.
We’ve seen that human bites can be nasty.
But let’s substitute a human for one of the most fearsome predators that ever walked the face of the Earth: The Tyrannosaurus rex.
What does a bite from the Tyrant King of the lizards look like?
Look – it’s relatively easy to say that a bite from a T-Rex to a human would be fatal, but how does it actually work? Would it be like the infamous toilet scene in Jurassic Park, where the wonderful beast rips a man clean off the toilet and ragdolls him in her mouth? Or would the power of its teeth just cut the bloke in half?
Well, the T-Rex was a pretty big dinosaur, our biggest on record probably weighed in at around 7000kg and was about twice as long as a giraffe is tall. The teeth of a T-Rex, from the skulls we’ve found, measure around 33cm long. If those denticles did happen to find a human head what kind of damage would they do? And, specifically, what if that head was Beyonce’s?
Using my own head to compare to the great Queen B, there are some obvious problems straight away: If a single T-Rex tooth went in the top of my skull – an average human adult skull – it would come out at the bottom of my jaw with about 10cm to spare (provided it got through all that muscle and bone without any obstruction). Like Buffy driving a stake through a vampire’s heart, my head would probably just turn to dust. A very fine, bloody dust.
But, for a minute, we’re going to have to pretend that Beyonce’s face is both long enough and wide enough to be bitten into by a T-Rex without a tooth going straight through a noggin. If the teeth didn’t penetrate the skull immediately, what is likely to happen?
I asked John Long, Strategic Professor in Palaeontology at Flinders University in South Australia, and it’s good news for Bey.
“Beyonce’s head would be bitten off and swallowed whole, so no obvious damage to her good looks, only decapitation.”
Okay, maybe not good news.
A human bite can generate perhaps 150-200 PSI. This is far below an oft-quoted measurement that around 520 PSI would be enough to crush a skull, so Beyonce probably just copped a few teeth marks. Polar bears hover around the 1,300 range, hippos can push upward of 1,800 and saltwater crocs push the 7000 PSI range.
The T-Rex? It’s suspected those bad boys and girls could generate 8000 PSI through their gaping maws. However, the tip of some of their teeth could reportedly generate an astonishing 430,000-plus PSI. The biomechanics of such teeth and the forces that the T-Rex could generate means that it could completely comminute bone to, basically, dust.
The pressure at some of the lowest points of the ocean are 25 times less than that.
Though, if a T-Rex was the one to bite Beyonce, there would be a lot of other questions that needed answering first.
And there would be few reasons to sing Destiny’s Child’s anthemic banger “Survivor”.
Today I Discovered is a daily dose of fact for Lifehacker readers – the weird, wonderful and sometimes worrying. Most of the time, it’s just mind-blowing. Let us know if you discovered anything that blew your mind in the comments!