Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bite Force of The Great White Shark

ABSTRACT: The notorious jaws of the white shark Carcharodon carcharias are widely feared, yet poorly understood. Neither its bite force, nor how such force might be delivered using relatively elastic cartilaginous jaws, have been quantified or described. We have digitally reconstructed the jaws of a white shark to estimate maximum bite force and examine relationships among their three-dimensional geometry, material properties and function.

We predict that bite force in large white sharks may exceed c. 1.8 tonnes, the highest known for any living species, and suggest that forces may have been an order of magnitude greater still in the gigantic fossil species Carcharodon megalodon.

However, jaw adductor-generated force in Carcharodon appears unremarkable when the predator's body mass is considered. Although the shark's cartilaginous jaws undergo considerably greater deformation than would jaws constructed of bone, effective bite force is not greatly diminished.

Carcharodon 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 Dr 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 white's bite is not particularly impressive, but the sheer size of the animal means that in absolute terms it tops the scales". From the press release.
Three-dimensional computer analysis of white shark jaw mechanics: how hard can a great white bite?. 2008. S. Wroe, et al. J. Zoology 276: 336 – 342.
She Gods of Shark Reef