Among all the species of sharks, perhaps great white sharks are the most feared by many, thanks to their ferocious depiction in many thriller movies. There are many other predators lurking in the oceans, but when people think of a sea monster, great white sharks are sure to skyrocket to the top. However, in real life, great white sharks are actually less fearsome than what many of us are thinking of. Scientists are learning more and more about these mysterious predators, which is helping to dispel the myth that they are just mindless killers.
Great white sharks are one of largest predatory shark species currently living in the oceans, and one of the biggest predators at sea. They can measure up to 20 feet long, more than half of a long bus, and can weigh up to 2.5 tons or 5,000 pounds.
As carnivores and alpha predators, they are at the top of the food chain for a reason. These humongous sea creatures prey on other sea creatures’ meat, which alone suggests that they have strong, incredibly sharp teeth. Great white sharks are also attributed to almost 50% of shark attacks on humans around the globe. So, how sharp and strong are their teeth?
What Does a Great White Shark Tooth Look Like?
A great white shark tooth is extremely sharp, and they have more than 300 serrated, triangular, razor-sharp teeth that are built and purposely designed to pierce through flesh and tear them apart.
When you watch videos of sharks feeding, it is difficult not to be distracted by their white, pointed, two-inch triangular teeth. This enormous fish’s razor-sharp mouth is simply a tool for feeding. When it comes to the most feared predators in the world, few can match the great white shark, thanks to its set of 300 pointy teeth. Like a knife and fork, they are designed to cut and pierce flesh.
These mighty fish possess a never-ending supply of battle-ready knives as these rows of teeth are constantly replaced throughout their lives, making them even more terrifying. The teeth of the great white shark are anchored in fragile cartilage, instead of a bone, and are susceptible to breaking or falling out.
How Many Teeth Do Great White Sharks Have?
Like all species of sharks, there are about five rows of 300 teeth in a great white shark’s mouth at first. Then these teeth shed and are replaced with new ones. In the course of a great white’s life, it can lose more than 20,000 teeth.
Rows of replacement teeth are positioned in the jawbone as an instant remedy. The great white shark, like all other sharks, has a coil-like tooth reserve of backup teeth in the jaw, and if one is lost, another one swings forward. Because of this, great white sharks always have razor-sharp weapons at the ready.
Most of the biting occurs in the front set of their teeth, which are also the largest. Great white sharks feed on various and huge volumes of meat everyday, so there is no exact rate as to how often and how many teeth these sea creatures lose and replace.
How Strong is a Great White Shark’s Bite?
A great white shark has an enormous and extremely powerful bite, enough to catapult itself to the second position for animals with the strongest bite force. In a research conducted by a team of Australian scientists, it was calculated that a great white shark can create a bite force that is nearly 4,000 pounds per square inch (psi) strong.
(And recent research shows that the shortfin mako shark’s bite could be more powerful than even a great white. We still have a lot to learn about the animal kingdom!)
In terms of jaw strength, the great white shark is by far the most powerful among all shark species. Each shark species has a unique set of teeth based on its food. These strong, pointed teeth are what define the great white shark as a carnivore. Other great white sharks, sperm whales, and orcas are the only other animals reported to strike at a great white shark.
The great white shark’s jaws are able to move both the top and bottom jaws simultaneously, just like all other shark species. Predators are ambushed by a great white shark, which attacks by biting with the bottom jaw and then the upper jaw. With its head shaking, it cuts off a large chunk of meat and swallows it via the opening in its mouth.
How Much Prey Can a Great White Shark Eat?
A great white shark may eat up to 30 pounds of meat in one big bite, consuming hundreds of pounds of flesh each time it eats a meal.
Turtles, dolphins, small fish, other sharks, and pinnipeds like seals and sea lions are all prey for the great white shark. A fast metabolism and the capacity to maintain a temperature of 57 degrees Fahrenheit allow the great white to endure weeks without food.
Are Great White Shark Teeth Movable?
Surprisingly, a great white shark’s teeth are movable, and they rotate and retract like a cat’s claw. There are several rows of teeth on the great white shark’s lower jaw in addition to the main set. When the jaw is opened, the teeth retract, like a cat’s claw, into their proper position. When the mouth is open, the great white shark’s teeth move outward, and when the jaw is shut, the teeth move inward. Pressure and senor nerve cells in the great white shark teeth provide their teeth a high degree of touch-sensing ability.
How Are Great White Shark Teeth Important to an Ecosystem?
As apex predators, great white sharks help maintain the population of smaller animals. Their huge, keen, and numerous teeth enable it to do its essential job as ocean janitor. Injured, sick, and sickly animals are all prey for the shark. As it eats its way through the water’s surface to deeper parts of the ocean, about 4,200 feet, the shark helps clean up the water.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/freie-kreation
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