The sheer mechanical power of shark jaws, combined with an increase in shark bites in Australia since the 2000s, have accelerated the need for the design of personal protection equipment to reduce fatal injuries in humans. However, the development of shark-bite resistant fabrics relies on accurate information of shark bite force and jaw function, which we are currently lacking. To date, we do not know the maximum force the shark jaw can produce, nor the amount of force required to penetrate or cut shark resistant fabrics. We also do not know how the shark cartilaginous jaw, which cannot self-heal in response to mechanical stress, maintains cartilage strains at levels that prevent failure. This is particularly important in juvenile sharks who maintain largely unmineralized cartilage compared to that of full-grown adult sharks yet can produce bite forces adequate to injure humans and capture large prey. The project is thus centred on understanding the structural integrity of the shark jaw during growth, to provide novel insights into the processes involved in shark bite performance, the mechanisms of preservation of shark jaw integrity and the testing of shark-bite resistant fabrics. Techniques Cadaveric dissections, muscle physiological cross-sectional area analyses, optical microscopy, cryo-electron microscopy, 3D virtual reconstruction of CT scans and synchrotron data, finite element modelling, and theoretical mathematical models.
feeding mechanics, shark jaws, functional anatomy, Department of Anatomy & Developmental Biology
Anatomy and Developmental Biology
Masters by research
Top-up scholarship funding available
Biomedicine Discovery Institute