Jawsfull of Teeth

Great White Shark, note upper jaw extended to slash at prey better.

The jaws of the great white shark have a deadly reputation but it takes a high-speed camera to show how beautifully designed they are. These images are still frames from an NHNZ Images film clip.


When a white shark attacks, it comes in a rush fast enough to push its one ton body half way out of the water. It doesn't simply open its mouth and bite. At the moment of strike the top of jaw actually extends forward for maximum chomp. Just one bite can cut you in half or leave you bleeding to death. The eye of the shark is rolled backwards into the eye socket so that it is protected.


Great White Shark, note eye is protected as it leaps back into water after a huge bite.

That's why we call them the ultimate predator.

Over 120 million years of evolution has created those jaws, sharks have been around much longer than the dinosaurs. The lower jaws act as a holding tool, which enables the shark to hold the prey whereas the upper jaw throws out from gums and acts as a cutting tool. Inside those jaws the implement of destruction are these teeth. Big triangular teeth ith lots of serrations down the sides are found in the upper jaw. Whereas the lower jaw tooth is a little bit narrower, but it still cuts as it holds the prey clamped tightly.

One of the other really amazing things about these animals is that they shed teeth regularly so if this shark loses this tooth just here in about 5 to 7 days its got a brand new one.

NHNZ Images holdings include, great white sharks, mako sharks, tiger sharks, bull sharks, oceanic white tip sharks, reef sharks as well as more benign sharks like port jackson, carpet, hammerhead, blue and of course dogfish. Check out our on-line catalogue for further details, or contact us directly.