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How powerful is a great white shark's jaw? © Getty Images

How powerful is a great white shark's jaw?

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Though the great white shark can really get its teeth stuck in, it's nowhere near the most forceful bite in the animal kingdom, and it doesn't need to be.

Asked by: Peter Cole, Reading

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Computer models suggest that the maximum bite force for a large shark would be 18,000 Newtons (18,000kgm/s²), but this hasn’t been measured on a living shark. Sharks have very sharp teeth and rely on slicing and head-shaking to rip off chunks of flesh, so they don’t need to bite down with their full force.

Even 18,000N isn’t that high when you take into account the shark’s size. The bite force quotient (BFQ), which compares bite force to body mass, is about 164 for a great white, compared with 181 for a Tasmanian devil and 440 for the Nile crocodile.

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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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