Fascinating Shark Facts

  • THE SCIENTIFIC NAME FOR A SHARK IS ELASMOBRANCHII.
  • They form part of the basic fish category group, even if they don’t have a bony skeleton, like many other fish.
  • They are still categorized with other vertebrates in the Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, and Class Elasmobranchii.
  • THIS CLASS (ELASMOBRANCHII) IS MADE UP OF ABOUT 1,000 SPECIES OF SHARKS, SKATES, AND RAYS.
  • Based on fossil scales found, scientists believe that sharks have been living in Earth’s oceans for more than 450 million years.
  • SHARKS LIVE IN EVERY OCEAN ON THE PLANET.
  • Some shark species inhabit shallow, coastal regions, while other shark species live in deep waters, on the ocean floor or in the open ocean.
  • There are approximately 350 different species of known sharks.
  • The smallest shark is the dwarf lantern shark (Etmopterus perryi) that only grows to 20 centimeters long, and the largest is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) that grows to a whopping 12 meters in length.
  • The largest shark to ever have lived, was the massive Megalodon, that averaged between 10 to 18 meters in length. They have been extinct for 16 million years.
  • The oldest known species of living shark is the goblin shark, that has been around for 120 million years, while the second oldest is the frilled shark, that has been around for 80 million years.
  • MOST SHARKS CAN SEE WELL IN DARKLY LIGHTED AREAS, HAVE FANTASTIC NIGHT VISION, AND CAN DISTINGUISH COLOURS.
  • The backs of sharks’ eyeballs have a reflective layer of tissue called a tapetum, which helps sharks see extremely well with little light.
  • Sharks use their gills to filter oxygen from the water.
  • TWO-THIRDS OF A SHARK’S BRAIN IS DEDICATED TO ITS SENSE OF SMELL.
  • Sharks can detect whether a scent is coming from their right or left nostril, to better help them track down their prey.
  • Sharks are cartilaginous – their skeletons are made of cartilage, instead of bone.
  • SHARKS ARE ALSO DIFFERENT FROM BONY FISH, BECAUSE THEY HAVE EYELIDS.
  • Sharks have dermal denticles, also called placoid scales, which are smooth and help them move quickly through the water.
  • By counting the rings on the shark’s vertebrae (meaning they have a backbone), one is able to gauge the age of the animal.
  • An average shark has between 5 and 15 rows of teeth in each jaw (the teeth don’t have roots), with most having only 5 rows.
  • Sharks help to maintain the coral reef habitats by influencing both the feeding patterns and ranges of other creatures.
  • A SHARK MAY LOSE AND GROW UP TO 30,000 TEETH IN ITS LIFETIME, ALTHOUGH IT TAKES ROUGHLY THREE DAYS TO GROW A REPLACEMENT.
  • Oil in the liver is what keeps the shark from sinking (and also staying balanced), as its density is lower than that of the surrounding water.
  • Sharks have an amazing sense of hearing (studies show that they can hear prey up to 200 meters away), considering that their ears are actually located inside of their heads.
  • Sharks have a wide view of their surroundings, because their eyes are located on the sides of their heads. They do have blind spots.
  • SHARKS RELY ON ELECTRORECEPTION TO NAVIGATE THE OCEAN AND NOTICE PREY.
  • Sharks can move both their lower and upper jaws, unlike humans and most other animals.
  • They have the thickest skin of any animal species, and have the largest brains of any fish.
  • Sharks communicate through body language. Research suggests that some common communications involve zigzag swimming, head shaking, hunched backs and head butts.
  • Females are usually larger than males, and have thicker skins, to withstand the bites of the males wanting to mate with them.
  • A shark’s skin feels exactly like sandpaper, because it is made up of tiny tooth-like structures called placoid scales, also known as dermal denticles.
  • Sharks can only swim forward, as a result of their fins that are stiff, and cannot be controlled by muscles, unlike fish.
  • MOST SHARKS NEVER SLEEP, BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO CONSTANTLY PUMP WATER THROUGH THEIR MOUTHS OVER THEIR GILLS TO BREATHE, OR THEY WILL DIE.
  • Sharks need to keep water moving over their gills to receive necessary oxygen.
  • GREAT WHITES CAN LIVE UP TO 70 YEARS.
  • It has been estimated that the whale shark, the largest shark species, can live up to 150 years (while nobody seems to know for certain), while many of the smaller sharks can live between 20 and 30 years.
  • Sharks are carnivores, and they primarily hunt and eat fish, sea mammals, like dolphins and seals, turtles, seagulls and other sharks.
  • A large meal may sustain the shark for up to three months, before it needs to eat again.
  • Great white sharks eat an average of 11 tons of food a year.
  • Sharks do not have vocal cords, so they make no sounds. That is why they are known as the “silent killers”.
  • The biggest threats to sharks are humans.
  • Shark attacks are extremely rare and account for approximately 10 fatalities every year, worldwide.
  • Humans kill 100 million sharks a year, which means for every single person killed by a shark, humans kill 10 million sharks
  • Many shark species are threatened by fishing or bycatch, which lead to the deaths of millions of sharks each year.

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