Using sophisticated computer modelling techniques 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.
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 two carnivores 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 analysis software and a technique known as "finite element analysis", 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
|Contact: Dr. Stephen Wroe|
University of New South Wales