Editor: Andrew Kitchener
Three-dimensional computer analysis of white shark jaw mechanics: how hard can a great white bite?
Article first published online: 12 AUG 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 The Zoological Society of London
Journal of Zoology
Volume 276, Issue 4, pages 336–342, December 2008
How to Cite
Wroe, S., Huber, D. R., Lowry, M., McHenry, C., Moreno, K., Clausen, P., Ferrara, T. L., Cunningham, E., Dean, M. N. and Summers, A. P. (2008), Three-dimensional computer analysis of white shark jaw mechanics: how hard can a great white bite?. Journal of Zoology, 276: 336–342. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2008.00494.x
- Issue published online: 24 NOV 2008
- Article first published online: 12 AUG 2008
- Received 24 April 2008; revised 20 June 2008; accepted 30 June 2008
- finite element analysis;
- bite force;
- Carcharodon carcharias;
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.