does it take the same amount of pressure to bite a finger off as it does to bite a carrot?

Fun facts are not always facts. One that makes the rounds in emails and discussion forums is: “It takes the same amount of pressure to bite through a carrot as it does to bite off a finger. This is entirely false. Here's why:

A “newton” is the international unit of force. A human adult’s maximum biting force ranges from 520-1,178 newtons depending on factors such as age and gender. It requires less than 200 newtons to bite through a raw carrot. This is well within the normal limits of the average person. Biting through a finger requires so much force that attempts often lead to partial-amputation; a bite that doesn’t completely sever the finger. There are cases of fingers being bitten entirely off, but such an act requires extraordinary force, far greater than 200 newtons of carrot-cutting power.

Did you know that the Tyrannosaurus Rex had the most powerful bite of any creature in the world; the biting force between 35,000-57,000 Newtons in a single tooth? This is the highest bite force by any terrestrial animal and more powerful than lions and alligators.

Updated on Sunday, April 15 2012 at 07:45PM EDT
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