A tiny finch weighing scarcely an ounce has jaws more powerful for its size than a mighty T-Rex dinosaur, research has revealed.
At six inches long, the Galapagos large ground finch is about the size of a T-Rex tooth.
But pound for pound, its bite is 320 times stronger than that of its eight-ton distant ancestor.
Scientists analysed the bites of 434 living and dead species and the Galapagos finch had the strongest bite of all in relation to its body size.
Its thick beak packs an impressive 16 lbs of force, which is uses to crack open nuts and crush seeds.
‘The proclaimed King of the Dinosaurs would be no match for a finch in a fight, if they were the same size,’ said study co-author Dr Chris Venditti of the University of Reading.
Lead researcher Dr Manabu Sakamoto, from the University of Reading, added: ‘The image of T-rex with its fierce jaws has helped it become the most iconic of dinosaurs, but our research shows its bite was relatively unremarkable.
‘Bite force was not what gave T-rex its evolutionary advantage, as was previously presumed.
‘Large predators like T-rex could generate enough bite force to kill its prey and crush bone just by being large, not because they had a disproportionately powerful bite.
‘This counters the idea that an exceptionally strong need for a powerful bite drove these ancient beasts to evolve bone-crushing bite forces.’
The research also suggests that human intelligence may have led us to have such a puny bite compared with other animals, said the scientists.
Evolving a large brain has taken up head space that would otherwise be filled with muscles critical for hard biting.
The study, published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B, found that the bite power of most animals had developed proportionally to evolutionary changes in body size.
Accelerated bursts of bite evolution was seen in some animals such as the Galapagos large ground finch, which developed its phenomenal beak power in less than one million years.
Evolutionary reductions in bite power were more common than increases, said the researchers.
This was especially true of humans, whose bite power had decreased rapidly despite their bodies growing larger over time.
Dr Sakamoto said: ‘An evolutionary trade-off with increasing brain size in humans may be the reason that our bite power is pretty pathetic.
‘Once we learnt to cook food, bite power became even less important. In effect, we evolved the cooking pot as our way of making our food easier to swallow. This is in line with other studies showing that humans chew their food less than other animals.’
Co-author Dr Chris Venditti, also from the University of Reading, said: ‘Our research provides new insight into the latest theories about the speed and drivers of evolution. It also allows us to create some fascinating hypothetical match-ups.
‘The proclaimed King of the Dinosaurs would be no match for a finch in a fight, if they were the same size.’