Jaws for a Cause: The Search for Samples from Historic Jaws!

Fishermen have collected the jaws of sharks as trophies for many years. At Project GenoJaws, we are seeking jaws from three shark species: Tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), Grey Nurse (Carcharias taurus), Mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) and White shark (Carcharodon carcharias) from either public and private collections to contribute to our global study of shark populations.  If you have old tiger or white shark jaws (or know someone who has) you can help us with this important cause! Jaw samples donated to Project GenoJaws will help to support the important cause of improving our understanding of global shark populations and the implications of fisheries management and conservation efforts. #jaws4acause

Our aim is to collect up to 100 historic and 100 contemporary samples from several populations around the world. These are very large numbers for a scientific study, and this is why we need your help! So if you have a jaw, if you know someone who has a jaw, or if you’ve seen a jaw then we would love hear about it! You can contact us by email, twitter or Facebook. Ideally we would love to receive a photo of the material (including a 1cm scale), the length of the specimen on death and location of capture if available.

We will collect the DNA information from the jaw by drilling three small holes of ~3 mm deep from the back of the jaws and collect the cartilaginous powder which results. There is no need to worry about damage to your jaws, the sampling has minimal impact on the specimen … you can see here for an example [1].

The DNA collected from jaws will  build on earlier work by our co-investigator Nielsen et. al (2017) [2] in which  DNA was extracted from jaws dating back to 1912! From this information we will use will use new, state-of-the-art methods and advanced biostatistics to identify changes in population size of these sharks over time. Our aim is to provide data on trends in the population sizes of these shark species that can be used to inject hard data into the debate about the management and future of these sharks in the worlds oceans.

Similar genetic work has already been done with tiger sharks in the Info-Pacific and provides and example about the usefulness of DNA material from jaws. Holmes et. al (2017) [1] from  the MFL discovered new information about tiger shark populations using genetic information. Holmes  identified that tiger sharks in the Indo-pacific move and interbreed within the region. This has had major implication for management and conservation of this species as the findings highlighted the need for nations in that region to cooperate and jointly manage this shared population.


[1] Holmes, B. J. et al. Population structure and connectivity of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) across the Indo-Pacific Ocean basin. Royal Society Open Science 4, 170309 (2017).

[2] Nielsen, E. E. et al. Extracting DNA from ‘jaws’: high yield and quality from archived tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) skeletal material. Molecular ecology resources 17, 431-442 (2017).

One thought on “Jaws for a Cause: The Search for Samples from Historic Jaws!

  1. I have quite a good collection of jaws, three small Great Whites and a lot of large Tigers and Makos
    Cheers Bevan walker


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