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Understanding the Bite of a Great White Shark

The bite of a great white shark may be the most frightening in the universe, and knowing how they bite might make it even worse.

Is there any creature whose bite is more iconically terrifying than that of a great white shark? Probably not, thanks to Steven Spielberg and Robert Benchley.

But unlike Bruce, the mechanical shark used in the movie “Jaws,” real sharks bite in a far more elaborate and interesting way than simple up and down chomping.

Skyler Thomas has spent years studying the biting biology of great whites. His film of the predators in action reveals an amazing combination of several physical attributes.

As a great white shark opens its mouth to bite an object, the bottom row of razor sharp teeth – visible in normal, pre-bite swimming – “grab” or stick the object. A millisecond later the upper row of teeth thrust outward and downward by virtue of the upper jaw unhinging itself from the skull, clamping down upon the prey.

If the prey is not bitten clean through in the bite attempt, the shark will shake its head like a dog playing tug of war with a rope in an attempt to rip the chunk of meat from the rest of the body.

There are fives rows of developing teeth behind the front row of 48 sharp, triangular teeth currently in use.

When a tooth falls out, however, one from behind does not simply replace it.

“Rather, each row moves forward, like a conveyor belt,” says the narrator.

Interesting in this footage is the video capture of a tooth falling out of its own accord. A rare sight.

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Understanding the Bite of a Great White Shark