Modelling tooth–prey interactions in sharks
Published on 10. August 2016
Modelling tooth–prey interactions in sharks: the importance of dynamic testing
Katherine A. Corn, Stacy C. Farina, Jeffrey Brash, Adam P. Summers
The shape of shark teeth varies among species, but traditional testing protocols have revealed no predictive relationship between shark tooth morphology and performance. We developed a dynamic testing device to quantify cutting performance of teeth. We mimicked head-shaking behaviour in feeding large sharks by attaching teeth to the blade of a reciprocating power saw fixed in a custom-built frame. We tested three tooth types at biologically relevant speeds and found differences in tooth cutting ability and wear. Teeth from the bluntnose sixgill (Hexanchus griseus) showed poor cutting ability compared with tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), sandbar (Carcharhinus plumbeus) and silky (C. falciformis) sharks, but they also showed no wear with repeated use. Some shark teeth are very sharp at the expense of quickly dulling, while others are less sharp but dull more slowly. This demonstrates that dynamic testing is vital to understanding the performance of shark teeth.
R. Soc. open sci. 3: 160141. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160141