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Determining shark size from forensic analysis of bite damage
Lowry, D.; de Castro, A.L.F.; Mara, K.; Whitenack, L.B.; Delius, B.; Burgess, G.H.; Motta, P. (2009). Determining shark size from forensic analysis of bite damage. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 156: 2483-2492. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-009-1273-3
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Lowry, D.
  • de Castro, A.L.F.
  • Mara, K.
  • Whitenack, L.B.
  • Delius, B.
  • Burgess, G.H.
  • Motta, P.

Abstract
    Bite damage patterns have long been used to estimate shark species and body size, with somewhat limited success. The lack of fit between damage patterns and shark size is partially due to variation in tooth size and shape within an individual. The ability to accurately predict body size from bite patterns is important for better understanding the ecological and behavioral underpinnings of shark bites/attacks on marine organisms, humans, and submarine equipment. To this end, we measured interdental distance (IDD) between the most labial teeth in the first six tooth files on both the upper and lower jaws, as well as the circumference of the portion of each jaw that bears teeth, for prepared jaw sets from fourteen shark species and regressed these data against total length. IDD is allometric as well as an accurate predictor of total length in all species examined, except Carcharhinus acronotus. Tooth-bearing circumference is also allometric and predictive of total length in all species. Though considerable overlap exists in IDD and circumference ranges among species for the total length ranges examined, Carcharodon carcharias and Isurus sp. can be differentiated from Carcharhinus limbatus, Carcharhinus brevipinna, and C. acronotus based on these values alone. When combined with knowledge of species-specific feeding behavior, geographic distribution, and habitat preferences, these simple measures from bite damage patterns allow quick, accurate assessment of shark size and potential species.

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