Sharks' Bite Force

The Science Teacher, October 2007 | Go to article overview

Sharks' Bite Force


While sharks instill fear in beachgoers worldwide, they instill a deep sense of curiosity in University of Tampa (UT) assistant professor and shark expert Dan Huber. Many mysteries exist about what makes sharks such perfect predators, so Huber's research on sharks' bite force--their hunting performance--may offer new insights on sharks' habits, capabilities, and evolution. The research may also lead to advances in protective swimwear, shark-proofing equipment, and a better understanding of flexible cartilage, which forms the sharks' whole skeletons, much like human ears and noses.

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"There's a ton of bad data on how hard sharks bite," Huber says. "And the more we learn the more we can understand these animals, educate the public, and keep people safer." Huber traveled to Australia in July to study a 2.4 m great white shark (see photo, p. 24) that had become entangled in netting, and is now helping create a three-dimensional (3-D) digital recreation of the shark that should reveal the animal's biological mechanics. A computed axial tomography (CAT) scan was taken of the shark's skull and data from the dissection will be used to create the digital model. The digital model will include millions of bits of information, which together will allow a simulation of a great white's bite at full force. …

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