To date, the majority of studies on feeding mechanics in sharks have focused on the movement of cranial components and muscle function, with little attention to tooth properties or function. Attributes related to mechanical properties, such as structural strength, may also be subjected to natural selection. Additionally it is necessary to characterize these properties in order to construct biomechanical models of tooth function. The goal of this study was to determine hardness and elastic modulus for the shark tooth materials enameloid, osteodentine, and orthodentine. Five teeth each from one carcharhiniform species, the bonnethead Sphyrna tiburo, and one lamniform, the sand tiger shark Carcharias taurus, were utilized for nanoindentation testing. Each tooth was sectioned transversely, air-dried, and polished. Both enameloid and dentine were tested on each tooth via a Berkovich diamond tip, with nine 2 microm deep indentations per material. t-Tests were used to determine if there were differences in hardness and Young's modulus between the tooth materials of the two species. There was no significant difference between the two species for the material properties of enameloid, however both hardness and Young's modulus were higher for osteodentine than for orthodentine. This may be due to differences in microanatomy and chemical composition, however this needs to be studied in greater detail.
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