Jem Stansfield enters the amazing world of Planet Dinosaur. He compares three terrifying predators to see which was the most powerful.
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If you thought you knew all there was to know about dinosaurs,
This is Planet Dinosaur Files,
the series that rewrites the prehistory books.
We're bringing to life the most awesome beasts
ever to walk the earth with state-of-the-art CGI technology
that makes you feel like you're right there.
And I'll be discovering what made these massive,
lethal and, frankly, bizarre beasts tick.
I'll be devising demos using air power, big chunks of steel,
and even calling in the fire brigade.
This is going to be all about brute strength and crunching power.
In the last 20 years, scientists have discovered more dinosaurs
than in all the centuries that have gone before.
Amazing new discoveries.
They reveal a jaw-dropping cast list of creatures.
deadlier than we had ever imagined.
And this time, on Planet Dinosaur Files,
I'm asking the question, which predator was the most powerful?
You might think you know about dinosaurs,
like the huge 12-tonne plant-eater, diplodocus.
Or the mighty tyrannosaurus rex,
a savage predator who dominated half the planet
for almost five million years.
Well, think again.
Ready to meet the new powerful dinos on the block?
a super scavenger to match a pack of hyenas.
A vicious cannibal
which would fight to the death to fill its own stomach.
Or the crunching power of Daspletosaurus,
the grandad of mighty T-Rex,
with one of the most devastating bites of any dinosaur that's lived.
And now there is an amazing new discovery
about that pulverising power house, allosaurus.
A predator with a very special form of attack.
So, three ravenous, bruising killers,
who would strike fear into other dinosaurs.
I'm going to look at what makes these dinosaurs so powerful.
First, bite strength.
Strong jaw muscles were a must for any prehistoric killer.
Are the biggest predators also the most powerful?
And finally, the fear factor.
Being able to scare other dinosaurs is crucial
if you want to top my power league.
Ready to meet the first dinosaur
competing to be the most powerful of the lot?
This is allosaurus.
We've known about allosaurus for over 100 years
but we've recently found out more about this awesome dinosaur.
This was a heavily armed, super hunter.
Nine metres long.
He weighs 1½ tonnes.
That's a lot less than many other big meat-eaters.
But - and it's a big but -
just look at those bulging forearms with the big claws,
those teeth, like saw blades, and those powerful upper legs.
This is no lumbering giant
but a sleek, muscular killer with a speciality.
Here, he's hoping to turn plant-eating qantassaurus
Allosaurs and qantassaurs lived 150 million years ago,
roughly where the USA is today.
And these rocky, scrubby plains are the perfect place
for a surprise attack.
There's a lot of cover for the allosaurus to use
so he can sneak up on the qantassaurus.
You can still see this kind of hunting going on in Africa today.
Here, this cheetah has got its eye on a tasty meal of gazelle.
He's creeping up on his target.
He needs to get close enough to have a chance
of using his incredible speed to catch the nimble gazelle.
This time he just misses out.
Rewind 150 million years
and this allosaurus is closing in on its prey, a lone qantassaurus.
Like the gazelle, the qantassaurus has very alert senses
so he's alive to possible danger.
And that's just as well.
Firstly, because at three-quarters of a tonne
and six metres in length, he's much smaller than the allosaurus.
And, secondly, he's on his own and that makes him vulnerable.
And if allosaurus can get within striking range
undetected by the qantassaurus, he can spring his ambush.
That's an incredible explosion of speed by allosaurus.
He was off his blocks like Usain Bolt.
An allosaurus could reach a speed of 25mph,
amazing for a beast that size.
But the qantassaurus can run too, with long distances a speciality.
It's his stamina versus the allosaurus' sprinting power.
This time, it's speed that wins out,
and now those terrifying jaws go into action.
Time to go to the Planet Dinosaur Files workshop.
Obviously, a dinosaur's jaws are what's scary about these beasts
but what I want to know is just how powerful those jaws are.
To do that, I've built my own dinosaur jaws.
This is my allosaurus.
And this is what's driving the bite of the allosaurus.
It works of compressed air like this.
I'm using air to force my jaws shut
by squeezing it into this rubber tube at high pressure.
At the moment I've got to set to what dinosaur experts reckon
is the muscle strength in an allosaurus' jaw.
I figure a good test to see how powerful a bite these fellas had
is to stuff something in its jaws,
get them to clamp down with full biting strength
and then see what it takes to wrestle the jaws open.
Chris, do you want to give that full allosaurus strength?
It has now clamped down on my trusty broom. Can I get it back?
It turns out that there is no way
an 11-stone bloke
can get the jaws of an allosaurus open once it has bitten down.
What about two blokes?
Out in the wild, that would be a very dangerous manoeuvre!
Right, let's see if we can get this open.
It's not easy. That is an incredibly powerful bite,
but two full-grown blokes can just about wrestle open the jaw
of a full-grown allosaurus.
That might seem like pretty amazing jaw strength
but the way that Chris and I can just about open them
shows that, for a dinosaur that size, allosaurus' jaws
weren't actually that strong
and this is where the new discovery bit comes in.
In 2001, dinosaur experts investigated allosaurus' jaw power.
They discovered that while the jaw muscles were quite weak,
its skull had incredible strength.
In fact, a much smaller animal like a lion has stronger jaws,
but now we know that allosaurus made up for that
by using its head, literally.
By swinging down with its powerful neck muscles like a giant axe,
it smashed its jaws into its prey.
So this new discovery shows that allosaurus
didn't need very powerful jaws.
By swinging his neck, head and jaws together like an axe...
..it was easily able to rip off large chunks of flesh.
Which means this poor qantassaurus doesn't stand a chance.
That's allosaurus, then.
This beast was explosively fast and muscle-bound.
Its bite strength gained extra power
by using its head and neck like a giant axe.
Size-wise, at nine metres and 1½ tonnes, it was no lightweight.
And its fear factor?
Well, that combination of surprise and speed
was a great way of terrifying its prey.
But getting enough food to survive in the prehistoric world
wasn't always about hunting and fighting.
Meet Majungasaurus, king of the scavengers.
Another mighty meat-eating dinosaur.
This monster lived 70 million years ago,
weighing in at well over a tonne.
And seven metres long.
You would have found Majungasaurus on the island of Madagascar,
off the east coast of Africa.
It's a lush and green place now
but when Majungasaurs roamed this land,
it was much hotter and much drier.
That meant droughts and droughts meant less food to go round
so a hungry dinosaur could not afford to be choosy.
This is an adult Majungasaur - a mother with two youngsters.
Mum's looking for a meal for her kids
and all that's on offer is this rotting carcass.
That's how we think Majungasaurus would have got lots of its food -
But scavenging for food is what lots of animals have to do to survive.
This is the body of a dead humpback whale,
washed ashore on the coast of Alaska in the USA.
There's so much meat that it attracts all kinds of animals
looking for an easy meal.
First, a black bear fills up.
Then an eagle.
And finally, a pack of hungry wolves.
All these animals are perfectly capable of killing prey,
but why go to the effort when dinner turns up on your doorstep?
Rewind 70 million years to the parched land of Madagascar.
Our Majungasaurs haven't got that carcass to themselves.
Free food like this will attract every beast for miles around,
including other Majungasaurs,
like this big, hungry male.
The female's youngsters sense the danger.
This male wants their dinner.
This could get really nasty.
Both male and female adults have very powerful jaws
and their hunger makes them even more aggressive.
The female is not giving up easily.
A sudden savage attack takes the male off guard.
She gets that crucial first big hit in.
Majungasaurus jaws are lethal in this situation.
They're designed for biting and gripping.
The male is badly wounded.
Meanwhile, back in the dinosaur workshop,
time to test out the Majungasaurus jaws.
I've got the same powerful artificial muscle
but I've slightly reduced the head size.
These animals were a little bit smaller than the allosaurus
but they had a powerful reputation.
Jaws are set to Majungasaurus strength.
Although ordinarily a vicious meat-eater,
it's time the Majungasaurus had one of its five-a-day.
I think it quite likes them.
Our allosaurus jaws were shifted with the weight of two blokes.
What will it take to prise open the mouth of a Majungasaurus?
It's slightly mad, just how hard that bite is.
There's absolutely no way both of us are getting that open.
I think this need something a bit more than human.
When man power fails, maybe van power will succeed.
Good. Start taking that away.
Have you got any more?
Yes, you've got it, you've got it!
There we go, the Majungasaurus, too much for a man,
about right for a man and a van.
Rewind 70 million years
and this adult male Majungasaurus has had it.
With the male dead,
the female shockingly starts to feed off its body.
Eating one of your own kind seems pretty drastic
so how sure can we be that three Majungasaurus were cannibals?
Let's take a look at the evidence.
This is the tailbone of a Majungasaurus,
discovered on Madagascar in 2003.
Take a close look.
There are some shocking marks on it - teeth marks.
Dinosaur experts discovered these were bite marks,
another Majungasaur's bite marks.
But this didn't look like a fight between two angry predators.
This was one Majungasaurus eating the other.
So that's Majungasaurus, a truly savage scavenger.
Its bite strength was better than Allosaurus,
with that vice-like grip.
On the size though, it was smaller than Allosaurus,
at seven metres long and one tonne in weight.
But for fear factor, it was awesome.
This beast stopped at nothing to get a meal,
a totally ruthless killer and a cannibal.
But is Majungasaurus pound-for-pound our most powerful dinosaur?
Well, I think there might be an even better contender for that title.
This is Daspletosaurus.
His name means frightful lizard,
and, boy, does he live up to that title.
This brute ruled by domination and intimidation.
Daspletosaurs were up to nine metres long and three tonnes in weight.
They lived 75 million years ago in what, today, is Canada.
Three tonnes - that's impressive.
Bigger than both allosaurus and Majungasaurus.
But that is not what makes this dinosaur stand out for me.
This monster is the ultimate hunter.
He's got the weapons, he's got the senses
that help him lock onto his target.
He will take on virtually anything.
Here, he is up against a Chasmosaurus
a tough opponent with vicious horns like a rhino.
And he's on guard which means our Daspletosaurus has no chance
of surprising him.
Chasmosaurus, with the help of those deadly horns,
lives to fight another day.
But Daspletosaurus is persistent. He'll be back.
Daspletosaurs are part of a famous family of ruthless killers,
But 10 million years before T-Rex ruled the earth,
Daspletosaurus was showing how it should be done.
This was a seek-and-destroy creature that took killing
to a whole new level.
Just like T-Rex, Daspletosaurus had a huge skull,
bulging neck muscles and a very powerful bite.
Those forward-facing eyes made tracking moving prey
a piece of cake.
And he was especially good at sniffing out a meal.
How do we know this? By looking at the evidence, that's how.
Experts have recently studied the skulls of this family of dinosaurs.
They found that the area of the Tyrannosaurid brain
that controls how they smell is very large.
And for a hungry Daspletosaurus,
a great sense of smell could make all the difference.
This Chasmosaurus may think he's well hidden from predators
but he's in for a nasty shock.
There's no doubt Daspletosaurus has all the equipment you need to be
a top hunter but there's more to this powerful dinosaur than that.
Because these killers hunted in gangs.
When Daspletosaur bones have been found,
they've often been in groups which makes it likely that
to increase their chances of getting a meal, they hunted in packs.
Here, a group of Daspletosaurus of all ages are ganging up
on this lone Chasmosaurus.
Younger ones provide the speed.
The bigger adults, the muscle.
Working together, they can attack with overwhelming power.
And once they get close, their lethal jaws get to work.
The bite of the Daspletosaurus was one of the most powerful
of any dinosaur that walked the planet.
Just like Daspletosaurs, today's powerful predators are lethal
when they work together.
Just watch these lions bring down this big buffalo.
And it's the same story for this and unlucky Chasmosaur.
The Daspletosaurus gang make short work of this kill.
Time to get back to the dinosaur workshop to find out just
what those fearsome jaws were like.
This is my Daspletosaurus.
Now, even in dinosaur terms, these things were veritable monsters.
They were like the grandaddy of T-Rex.
As you can see, it's a much, much bigger animal than either
the allosaurus or the Majungasaurus.
In order for us to replicate that bite force with our model,
we have to take the whole rig right up to maximum.
Chris, do you want to power it up?
That's a concrete brick wedged in our Daspletosaur jaws.
Right, that's down pretty hard.
Remember, it took two men to shift allosaurus jaws.
And a van to prise open those of the Majungasaurus.
Let's see how tough Daspletosaurus is.
-Jim, shall we try by hand?
Right, it's kind of obvious that this thing
is well beyond the means of human power.
But the van's not doing the trick either.
That's pretty shocking
because we went to great lengths to build this to accurately
reflect what experts think these dinosaurs were capable of.
Headline news, you can't even open the jaw of a Daspletosaurus
with a van.
I think we need some professional help.
What I've got is a Daspletosaurus biting down at full power
and are you sure your little dinosaur is going to be
more powerful than my big dinosaur?
-I'd imagine so.
-What do you normally use those for?
It's a hydraulics spreader, mainly used for car crashes
so we can rescue people stuck in cars.
-To get these in, I'm going to have to do a bit of dentistry.
Cleanliness is important in dentistry.
Don't worry, big fella, this shouldn't hurt at all.
Stay being brave.
-Sparky, can you do a job for us?
-Yeah, power it up.
So, will these jaws finally meet their match?
It's taken that super-powerful firemen's gadget,
capable of shifting the weight of two double-decker buses,
to get those jaws open.
I'm seriously impressed.
I don't want you to hold you up from fighting fires.
-Thank you ever so much.
-Cheers, thank you.
Looks like we've finally overcome the Daspletosaurus.
It appears that although normal people can't do it,
if a Daspletosaurus bites down on something,
you've got to call the fire service.
So that's Daspletosaurus,
a terrifying gang hunter with jaws that can crush
virtually any prey into pulp.
But for all-round power,
how does this magnificent predator compare to our other contenders?
There was allosaurus, explosively fast and strong with it.
On bite strength,
it gained extra power from that axe-swimming head action.
For size, a big predator, nine muscle-bound metres long
and 1½ tonnes.
And fear factor, a great combination of surprise
and speed made allosaurus terrifying.
Then the savage Majungasaurus, a top-class scavenger.
For bite strength, it was better than allosaurus,
with that powerful vice-like grip.
Size? A respectable seven metres long and one tonne.
Finally, fear factor, well, this was a ruthless,
anything-goes killer cannibal.
And lastly, there's Daspletosaurus,
a superbly evolved hunter with a keen sense of smell
that locked onto its prey.
First, bite strength. Those jaw muscles were amazing.
Three times stronger than Majungasaurus,
an incredible crunching chomp.
Size-wise, this was a big predator.
Nine metres long and weighing in at three tonnes.
And fear factor, well, the Daspletosaurs
liked nothing better than attacking a lone victim in a big gang.
So, for me, there's only one winner.
That combination of great smell, gang hunting
and crashing jaws make Daspletosaurus
my most powerful predator.
Next time on Planet Dinosaur Files...
I dive into the wonderful world of marine reptiles.
And my dinosaur workshop goes under water.
Subtitles By Red Bee Media Ltd
Email [email protected]
Jem Stansfield compares allosaurus, majungasaurus and daspletosaurus, to find out which of these terrifying predators was the most powerful. He builds his very own set of mechanical dinosaur jaws in his workshop and discovers just how incredibly strong they were.