Thanks to Hollywood, the jaws of the great white shark may be the most famous in the animal kingdom. But despite its presence in film posters, the great white’s toothy mouth has received very little experimental attention.
Now, Stephen Rowe from the University of New South Wales has put the great white’s skull through a digital crash-test, to work out just how powerful its bite was.
A medium-sized great white, 2.5m in length and weighing in at 240kg, could bite with a force of 0.3 tonnes. But the largest individuals can exert a massive 1.8 tonnes with their jaws, giving them one of the most powerful bites of any living animal.
The jaws exert over three times more force than the 560kg exerted by a large lion, and 20 times more than the 80kg a feeble human jawbone can manage.
Impressive as the great white shark is, one of its extinct ancestors was even more so.
Megalodon (aka the megatooth shark aka Carcharadon megalodon), was a monster that may have grown to 16 metres in length and had a maximum weight of anywhere from 50 to 100 tonnes. And according to Wroe’s research, it had the most powerful bite of any animal.
A single chomp could exert up to 18 tonnes of force; even the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex could only muster 3 tonnes of force.
Being bitten by a megalodon would be like having three African elephants pressing on top of you with carving knives strapped to their feet. It truly was “one of the most powerful predators in history”.
If anything, these figures are underestimates. Wroe only modelled what would happen if the sharks raise their lower jaw, whereas an actual bite consists of lots of different movements – for example, a great white’s upper jaw pushes forward when it chomps and its head presses downward. Nor do great whites bite in an elegant, genteel way.
They frequently ram their prey driving their jaws towards them at high speed.
And once bitten, the victim is shaken from side to side. So it’s likely that an animal being bitten by these predators would experience forces far larger than the already considerable ones measured in Wroe’s study.
I wouldn’t have believed that an owl and a dog could become best friends until I saw these surprising and adorable photos by Tanja Brandt, a professional animal photographer and collage artist in Germany.
Ingo the shepherd dog and Poldi the little owl seem more than happy to cozy up to each other for photoshoots bathed in golden evening light.
If you like these photos, be sure to visit Brandt’s site, because Ingo has a whole lot of beautiful friends, be they other shepherds or other fierce birds of prey besides Poldi.
Brandt creates animal photos and collages professionally, so she seems to have a lot of cooperative models to work with!
Though these photos certainly are adorable and unique, Ingo and Poldi aren’t the only unusual animal friends out there – we have a post about all sorts of unusual animal friends!
More info: ingoundelse.de | tier-collagen.de | 500px | Facebook
This orphaned Black Flying Fox, called Luka, was rescued by the RSPCA Queensland.
Ken, who photographed Luka for the RSPCA’s Hope Calendar, says that his goal in this image was to enhance the public’s attitude towards Flying Foxes, an ecologically-valuable species, in the wake of negative press.
This shot was the overall winner of the Ecology Image Competition run by the journal BMC Ecology. It shows a Namaqua rock mouse getting dusted with pollen as it takes a night-time drink from a Pagoda lily in South Africa, and marks the first time that “nocturnal rodent pollination” has been captured on film in the wild.
(Photo: Petra Wester).
Capturing two simultaneous meals on a single flower in the mountains of eastern Panama, this image won the “Community, population and macroecology” category. It shows a Crab spider preying on a bee, while a butterfly coincidently looks for nectar.