Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teenage great white sharks are awkward biters

Date:
December 2, 2010
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
The jaws of adolescent great white sharks may be too weak to capture and kill large marine mammals, according to a new study.

Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) breaking the surface off Gaansbaai, South Africa. The jaws of adolescent great white sharks may be too weak to capture and kill large marine mammals, according to a new study.
Credit: iStockphoto/Kevin Browne

The jaws of adolescent great white sharks may be too weak to capture and kill large marine mammals, according to a new study published in the Journal of Biomechanics by an international team of scientists.

Related Articles


The researchers also found that, unlike mammals, sharks can maintain high bite forces no matter how widely their jaws are open, thanks to a unique jaw muscle arrangement that has helped them to be among the most successful predators of all time.

The study is the first of its kind to use sophisticated three-dimensional computer models and advanced engineering techniques to examine how different sharks hunt and kill prey.

Detailed computer simulations examined the feeding behaviour of two threatened shark species: the harmless grey nurse -- or sand tiger -- and the notorious great white.

Digital models revealed that the jaws of grey nurse sharks are spring-loaded for a rapid strike on small, fast-moving fish, while those of great whites are better suited for a powerful bite on prey ranging in size from small fish to large marine mammals.

"We were surprised that although the teeth and jaws of our sub-adult great white shark looked the part and the muscles were there to drive them, the jaws themselves just couldn't handle the stress associated with big bites on big prey," says study co-author Dr Stephen Wroe, who heads the Computational Biomechanics Research Group in the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The reason for this appears to be that until great whites reach a length of about 3 metres or more their jaws haven't developed enough stiff mineralised cartilage to resist the forces involved.

The 2.5 metre great white shark used for the study was caught by the NSW Bather Protection Program. "It is hard to believe, but at this size great whites are basically just awkward teenagers that can't hunt large prey very effectively," says UNSW doctoral student Toni Ferrara, the lead author of the article. "It seems paradoxical that the iconic jaws of great white sharks -- made infamous by the classic Steven Spielberg movie Jaws -- are actually rather vulnerable when these sharks are young. Great white sharks are not born super-predators, they take years to become formidable hunters."

Co-author Dr Vic Peddemors, of the NSW Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre of Excellence, says: "This study may also explain why many of the shark attacks off NSW are aborted after a single exploratory bite, as the great whites involved are usually juveniles that might sustain jaw injury if they persevered with the attack.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T.L. Ferrara, P. Clausen, D.R. Huber, C.R. McHenry, V. Peddemors, S. Wroe. Mechanics of biting in great white and sandtiger sharks. Journal of Biomechanics, 2011; 44 (3): 430 DOI: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.09.028

Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Teenage great white sharks are awkward biters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101202124556.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2010, December 2). Teenage great white sharks are awkward biters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101202124556.htm
University of New South Wales. "Teenage great white sharks are awkward biters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101202124556.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Learn how to make a mixed green salad topped with a pan-seared camembert cheese in only a minute! Music: Courtesy of Audio Network. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) It looks like this 2-month-old Husky puppy and the family ferret are going to be the best of friends. Look at how much fun they&apos;re having together! Credit to &apos;Vira&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) Swiss scientists build a new drone that can both fly and walk, modeling it after the movements of common vampire bats. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins