The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth

Great white shark research project

Results from this study of the white shark Carcharodon carcharias include measurements obtained using a novel photographic method that reveal significant differences between the sexes in the relationship between tooth cuspidity and shark total length, and a novel ontogenetic change in male tooth shape. Males exhibit broader upper first teeth and increased distal inclination of upper third teeth with increasing length, while females do not present a consistent morphological change. Substantial individual variation, with implications for pace of life syndrome, was present in males and tooth polymorphism was suggested in females. Sexual differences and individual variation may play major roles in ontogenetic changes in tooth morphology in C. carcharias, with potential implications for their foraging biology. Such individual and sexual differences should be included in studies of ontogenetic shift dynamics in other species and systems.