Shark researchers from the University of New South Wales, Newcastle University, NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries (Australia) and University of California (USA) reveal unprecedented information about the feeding habits of the great white shark by analysing anatomical and biomechanical data from their skull and muscle tissues.
They generated 3-Dimensional models the skull of a 2.4-metre male great white shark on the basis of multiple x-ray images generated by a computerized tomography (CT) scanner.
Using novel imaging and finite element analysis (FEA), the team reconstructed the great white's skull, jaws and muscles, remodelling them as hundreds of thousands of tiny discrete, but connected parts.
They then digitally "crash tested" this computer model to simulate different scenarios and reveal the powerful bite of the fearsome predator, as well as the complex distributions of stresses and strains that these forces impose on the shark's jaws.
It was found that the largest great whites have a bite force of up to 1.8 tonnes. By comparison, a large African lion can produce around 560 kg of bite force and a human approximately 80 kg – making the great white's bite more than 20 times harder than that of a human. UNSW's Steve Wroe, the study's lead author, says the great white is without a doubt one of the hardest biting creatures alive, possibly the hardest.
"Nature has endowed this carnivore with more than enough bite force to kill and eat large and potentially dangerous prey," he says. "Pound for pound the great whites' bite is not particularly impressive, but the sheer size of the animal means that in absolute terms it tops the scales. It must also be remembered that its extremely sharp serrated teeth require relatively little force to drive them through thick skin, fat and muscle". The scientists also found that although shark's jaws are comprised of elastic cartilage (as opposed to the bony jaws of most other fish), this did not greatly reduce the power of its bite.
They have also calculated that the bite force of the great white's extinct relative, the gigantic fossil species Carcharodon megalodon (also known as Big Tooth) is the highest of all time, making it arguably the most formidable carnivore ever to have existed. Carcharodon megalodon, which may have grown to 16 meters in length and weighed up to 100 tons, wasat least 30 times as heavy as the largest living great whites.
They predict that it could generate between 10.8 to 18.2 tons of bite force. Fossil evidence suggests that Big Tooth was an active predator of large whales that immobilised its huge prey by biting off their tail and flippers before feeding at will.
A comparison of Tyrannosaurus rex with megalodon suggests that the great Tyrant Lizard was no match for the giant shark. "Estimates of maximum bite force for T. rex are around 3.1 tonnes, greater than for a living white shark, but puny compared to Big Tooth."
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Science Left Behind: The Anti-Vaccine Update Update
- Moderate Pot Use By Adolescents Doesn't Hurt IQ
- What Americans Fear Most Isn't Ebola Or Terrorism, It's...
- Finding Fracking Fluids In The Environment
- Ashes And Vegetables: The Diet Of Roman Gladiators Was Rather Poor
- Manly Men And Feminine Women Are Not Evolutionary Mandates - They Are Urban Ones
- Dopamine Receptor Agonist Drugs Linked To Gambling And Hypersexuality
- "Have you seen posts made by some people who have other reasons for being homophobic than religion..."
- "Great to see the other side of the story come out. There is usually so much fuss about some molecule..."
- "As someone who is very interested in longevity and pushing healthy eating with less sugars, this..."
- "While people extoll the fact that 2014 was a hot year it is not anywhere near where they said it..."
- "As a Cooley Kid of the early 70's, and involved in SEQ and the various projects, your article is..."
- An end to fat shaming? The 50 year DNA mystery of metabolic dysfunction may soon be solved
- Egg freezing: a smart career move?
- Despite resistance, China will dominate future of GMOs
- Should Science and Nature run advertorial by wacky Dr. Bronner’s that misleads on GMOs?
- Jack the Ripper’s identity remains a mystery after error in DNA analysis revealed
- Seed patent primer: Is the use of GMOs preventing farmers from reusing their seeds?
- Studies must be carried out to determine whether exercise slows the onset of type 1 diabetes in children and adults
- Clot dissolver tPA's tardy twin could aid in stroke recovery
- NASA Webb's heart survives deep freeze test
- UMD researchers formulate cyber protection for supply chains
- NASA sees Himalayan snow from Cyclone Hudhud's remnants