Science! By Jan. 14, 2015 4:55 pm
Researchers make a sawzall from shark teeth because science | Science! |

It took movie magic to cross a shark with a tornado, giving us the cinematic classic Sharknado. Crossing a shark with a chainsaw, however, is all science. The Jawzall is a reciprocating saw with a blade made from shark teeth developed at Cornell University. Of course, this is unspeakably awesome on the surface, but there’s a legitimate science reason to do it too — promise!

Sharks don’t have any way of holding their prey still while they take a bite, which is why they shake their victims so violently. That’s the only way they can separate each mouthful. Researchers were interested in how shark teeth hold up to that kind of treatment, and it turns out attaching them to a saw blade is a good way to find out.

The team glued shark teeth with different morphologies to the saw blade and let them tear through some raw fish.The test covered teeth from a sandbar shark, a sixgill shark, a silky shark and a tiger shark. After each cut, the amount of flesh sliced by the teeth was noted. After 12 cuts, all the teeth tested had worn down considerably. They cut only about 7% as much tissue on the 12th run as they did on the 6th. The shape and size of the teeth doesn’t seem to affect longevity. Larger more serrated teeth were much better overall at causing damage, though. It took only six passes for the tiger shark’s teeth to sever the spine of a test salmon.

From this the researchers concluded that shark teeth don’t make a very good saw blade, of course they don’t make great teeth in many ways either. Sharks regularly lose teeth when feeding, but there are more growing in all the time. It seems the faster a shark chews, the sooner its teeth are going to wear down, and it’s the same across all tooth morphologies. This may actually be one of the reasons shark teeth evolved in such a way that they break off so frequently. It doesn’t matter if they’re cemented in the creature’s head if they are too dull to do any good.

Now read: Sharks join Twitter to warn you when they’re within striking distance

Researchers make a sawzall from shark teeth because science | Science! |


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