Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Teenage great white sharks are awkward biters

02.12.2010
Adolescent great white sharks may be too weak to capture and kill large marine mammals

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.

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."

Related links:

Computational Biomechanics Research Group: http://www.compbiomech.com/

Great white shark bite force: http://www.science.unsw.edu.au/news/great-white-s-mighty-bite-revealed

NSW Bather Protection Program: http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/357438/Shark-meshing-Primefact-October-2010.pdf

Bob Beale | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unsw.edu.au

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

Im Focus: New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions

It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study suggests oysters offer hot spot for reducing nutrient pollution

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

17.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

World first for reading digitally encoded synthetic molecules

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>