Shark Jaws Used
By Research Institutes

Over the years, the use of shark products has gone from purely food, to a mixture of products for human use and also for research.

Correspondingly, the research into sharks has not only been for behavioural purposes, but also looking at how sharks might help us in other ways: from looking at the composition of their cartilage for studies into structures used for building products, to using the material in their teeth as replacement for damages caused to the underlying dental bone structure in humans.

Simon’s interest in this field comes obviously primarily from the jaws point of view.

As well as measuring bite bio-mechanics


Many scientific researchers use the jaws not only for studying bio-mechanics of the bite of sharks, but also to use as a study aid when it comes to comparing the various modern day sharks to their primitive ancestors.

While the structure of modern day teeth does not vary greatly from the structure and shape of many prehistoric teeth, the comparison of the jaws with their prehistoric ancestors give us a clearer understanding of the evolution of this majestic creature.

Measurement of the dentition


Recently, in Australia, shark jaws have been used for a variety of purposes, ranging from the measurement of the dentition as an aid in identifying the size of a shark (after an attack on either a person or a surfboard), to taking a small amount of cartilage in the form of powder from the jaw as an aid in gaining a genetic map of various sharks, especially Tiger sharks.

A well preserved and cleaned shark jaw, with a meticulous approach to its preparation and shape, is an invaluable tool for scientific research.

We ensure the jaws I prepare can be used for both research and as a display item, both for press releases and any scientific paper which requires photos illustrating jaws.  

Allowing ease for measurements


The client informs me whether any teeth need to be replaced, although for the purposes of measurements and research, this is usually not carried out, as the jaw needs to be kept in its original condition.

The jaws are set in a natural shape, ensuring access to all the teeth can easily be achieved. This is especially important in the case of Mako sharks (Isurus sp.), where sometimes jaws are stretched too wide, thus making the lower teeth cross over, rendering any measurements of such teeth difficult.

This is also the case with the jaws of Great White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias), where the bottom teeth also can cross over if the jaw is too wide.


The research institute will brief us on what is required and the jaw will be cleaned, restored and set accordingly.

Measurements are usually taken while the jaw is fresh, before the process is commenced, so a record can be kept of any shrinkage during the drying process. This is important especially when measuring the upper and lower jaw perimeter, as differences between the wet jaw and dry jaw will occur.

Teeth without the jaw


We also have complete sets of teeth (without jaws) for research purposes.

This image illustrates not only what is available for sale, but also what can be loaned out to museums and research centres.

These teeth (left) are from a very rare species called Glyphis gangeticus.

Restoration for research institutes and museums

Clean-a-Jaw also carries out restoration on old jaws which have been with museums and research institutes over a number of years. This allows the researchers and museum staff to have in their possession a clean and whitened jaw, rather than an old, yellow jaw which had been badly cleaned in the first place.

Sometimes, these jaws did not have all the meat removed from the gum area or the protective membrane from the back teeth, thus making it hard to get clear measurements of the teeth. Once restored, the gumline is excised and the membrane removed, thus making it easier to gain access to the teeth for measurement.