Size of the Great White Shark (Carcharodon)

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Science  13 Jul 1973:
Vol. 181, Issue 4095, pp. 169-170
DOI: 10.1126/science.181.4095.169


The maximum length of 36.5 feet (11.1 meters) attributed to the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) by Günther and others is a mistake. Examination of the jaws and teeth of the specimen referred to by Günther and comparison with the jaws of white sharks of known length revealed a length of about 17 feet (∼5 meters). The largest white shark reliably measured was a 21-foot (6.4-meter) individual from Cuba. Bites on whale carcasses found off southern Australia suggest that white sharks as long as 25 or 26 feet (7 ½ or 8 meters) exist today. The size of extinct Carcharodon has also been grossly exaggerated. Based on a projection of a curve of tooth size of Recent Carcharodon carcharias, the largest fossil Carcharodon were about 43 feet (∼13 meters) long.