Shark Jaws: Just How Strong Are They?

Written by Taiwo Victor
Updated: June 15, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/BWFolsom
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Whether were born before or decades after the rise of the famous American film Jaws, you’ve most probably heard about it as it is one of the most talked-about shark movies of all time. The title “Jaws” is perhaps among the most apt for the film, as the creatures featured possess one of the strongest jaws on the planet. You read that right. Sharks are feared because of their enormous size and ferocious appetite. But apart from those factors, they are also considered utterly dangerous because of their jaws. Shark jaws are among the strongest in the animal kingdom, but just how strong are they? 

Imagine a massive creature, about 15 to 16 feet long, with over 300 serrated teeth. That’s how much force they can generate in each bite! While each shark species has varying bite force levels and strength, some can bite even more potently than the Nile crocodile and American alligator. Those species that belong to the world’s most aggressive sharks have particularly stronger jaws than others. This article will show you just how strong shark jaws are and which shark species possess the strongest bite force.

How Strong is a Shark’s Jaw?

Different shark species have various bite forces and jaw strength. However, the most ferocious of them is the great white shark, which also snags the second spot among the animals with the strongest bite force. Great white sharks are also among the largest fish in the world, and  can bite with a power of up to 4,000 pounds per square inch (PSI). That is twenty times stronger than the average human bite force, ten times stronger than the average wolf bite force, and seventeen times stronger than the average pit bull bite force. Their bite strength is determined by the shark’s size, with larger sharks producing more force. Great white sharks come in various sizes, with the greatest exceeding 20 feet in length. Female great whites reach a length of 15 to 16 feet on average, whereas males reach just 11 to 13 feet. The majority of great whites weigh between 1,200 and 2,400 pounds.  

Australian scientists used 3D computer modeling to estimate the 4,000 PSI measurement from a great white shark. They were able to precisely assess how hard a great white could bite by looking at a great white’s skull and muscle design using x-ray imaging. They employed a model of a giant 21-foot great white shark for their 4,000 PSI measurement, which is massive compared to other great white sharks in the water. While today’s sharks have the strongest biting force of any animal on the planet, prehistoric sharks like megalodon had bite forces up to ten times stronger!

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Shark Jaw Anatomy

Teeth and jaws are the two components that make the mouth of a shark so effective.

Seashell World/Shutterstock.com

Sharks have jaw anatomy that makes their mouths very efficient weapons. The lower jaw bone moves freely in most animals, whereas the upper jaw is permanently linked to the skull. The upper jaw of sharks is attached to the skull, but it can be dislocated when the shark bites its victim.

While sharks have one of the strongest bite forces globally, this incredible strength shouldn’t only be credited to the massive creature’s jaws. Rows upon rows of fearsome fangs, adapted for ripping and shredding their prey, go along with that strength. 

The teeth and jaws are the two components that make the mouth so effective. A shark’s mouth is its only real weapon. Like its fins and sensory organs, the shark’s mouth is a highly effective physiological adaptation that is perfectly suited to its function. 

Sharks can maintain their status as one of the finest predators thanks to their regular ability to replace their teeth. Sharks have between 50 to 300 teeth on average at any given moment. Sharks, unlike most animals, do not have just one row of teeth; they have multiple rows. When an old tooth falls out, the new tooth replaces it – like a continuous conveyor belt of teeth! Shark teeth are counted in series from the outside of the jaw inwards, in rows along the jawline. Sharks have fifteen rows and five series of teeth on average, totaling up to 300 teeth at any given time. On the other hand, some sharks have a colossal number of teeth. Bull sharks can have seven series and up to fifty rows of teeth at once, giving them roughly 350 teeth.

Shark Jaw Comparison

The bite force of a saltwater crocodile is the strongest of all creatures, measuring 3,700 PSI for a 17-foot species.

A-Z-Animals.com

The great white shark and the saltwater crocodile are ferocious marine beasts often compared to their strength and bite force. Who would most likely win if you put a saltwater crocodile and a great white shark between a match? Technically, it still depends on many factors, but the battlefield will certainly be chaotic, whatever may be the result. 

Bite force is measured pound for pound concerning a creature’s size. Saltwater crocodiles possess the most powerful bite of any crocodile species, and their bite is comparable to that of a T-rex. Saltwater crocodiles top the world’s deadliest animals, killing between 3,000 and 5,000 people each year. The bite force of the saltwater crocodile is the strongest of all creatures, measuring 3,700 psi for an average 17-foot species. Surprisingly, the same scientist extrapolated this data to reveal that prehistoric crocodiles reaching 40 feet would have a bite force of 23,000 PSI. However, considering their size and teeth difference, a great white shark would defeat a saltwater crocodile in a fight. Although these lethal animals are extremely powerful, the great white shark has a significant advantage in the water. This animal would not only be the first to see the crocodile, but it also possesses the quickness to deliver a crushing attack.

Can a Shark Jaw Crush Humans?

A shark’s jaws are large enough to swallow a human whole.

Igor Kovalchuk/Shutterstock.com

Shark jaws are massive, measuring about one meter (three feet) in breadth and lined with hundreds of tiny teeth. That’s large enough to swallow at least one human being whole. While sharks seem to be enormous and ferocious enough to eat you, the truth is they will most likely avoid humans than confront them.  

Despite this, a great white’s massive size and terrifying bite make it one of the deadliest shark species. The United States has the most shark attacks globally, and where great whites are responsible for more attacks than any other shark species. However, the majority are not fatal. Over 300 great white attacks have been documented throughout history, with approximately 16% being fatal. 

Not all shark species are ferocious enough to be a threat to humans, though. Some species may be large enough but can’t devour even larger marine vertebrates. Although whale sharks and basking sharks are among the largest shark species, they are not harmful if encountered in the sea. Despite their massive size and mouths, these sharks are filter feeders like many whales, and eat plankton and tiny krill or small fish. Whale sharks are relatively calm fish that have been known to let divers ride on their dorsal fins. In fact, there are some places where you can swim with them, like in the Philippines, where swimming with whale sharks is an optional adventure.

Which Shark Has the Strongest Bite Force?

After saltwater crocodiles, great white sharks are widely regarded as possessing the world’s second strongest biting force. However, there has recently been some debate regarding whether great white sharks or bull sharks have the strongest biting force. Although great whites are normally larger than bull sharks and so have a larger bite, pound for pound, bull sharks may have the edge. A direct comparison revealed that a 9-foot-long bull shark bit 478 pounds, while an 8-foot-long great white bit 360 pounds. 

Bull sharks have a 6,000-newton bite force, which is approximately 1,300 pounds of force. (Human bite forces range from 247 to 292 lbs.) They have no appetite for humans, although they usually flee once they realize it’s not their usual food if they attack. Having said that, bull shark hostility has resulted in 117 human attacks, 25 of which were deadly.

Furthermore, bull sharks have more teeth than regular sharks, causing their bite to be slightly stronger than great whites. This demonstrates that bull sharks have a more powerful bite, pound for pound. This is thought to be because bull sharks frequently feed in murky water, which means they don’t want to lose their food when they bite it. So, unlike great white sharks, which rend and tear their food, they’re not going anywhere once they sink their teeth in.

What Sharks Have the Strongest Jaws?

The great white shark and bull shark constantly battle for the top spot. However, many other sharks deserve the spotlight. The tiger shark, for instance, is among the most terrifying and dangerous shark species. With a bite force of 325 PSI, it can certainly do enough damage to humans and other marine creatures. Their powerful bite force allows them to quickly smash through the flesh of their prey, such as fish, birds, seals, turtles, dolphins, squid, crustaceans, and even sea snakes

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