The bite force of a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is the highest known for any living species, according to research to be published in the Journal of Zoology. This is the first time that scientists have estimated the bite force of the great white.
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 UNSW, 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.
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 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".
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