Cornell researchers show off shark tooth saw

It looks like a prop from a science fiction film or horror movie – a sawzall power tool outfitted with shark teeth instead of normal blades. The toothy contraption comes courtesy of Cornell University researchers who introduced the Jawzall at the annual Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology earlier this month.

The device was created in order to observe how shark teeth function when chomping down into the bodies of their prey. The teeth from four different shark species – sandbar, tiger, silky, and sixgill, – were attached to straight saw blades that were about a foot long, according to an abstract written by Cornell undergraduate Katherine Korn.

The device was used to determine whether tooth shape impacts the cutting efficiency on large prey like a salmon. Korn and her team also examined how quickly the teeth dulled.

“After 12 reciprocations, a tooth cut only 7% of the tissue it cut on the first 6 reciprocations (at 5.7cm/reciprocation),” the abstract reads. “This rapid dulling is enhanced by the high speeds at which we are cutting, as the fish tissues appear much stiffer at high strain rates. Sharks have very rapid tooth replacement and we propose this is driven by the speed of dulling from use.”

To see the shark-machine hybrid, check out the video here.