Sharks are known as the majestic and somewhat mysterious monsters of the deep. Society is fascinated with these creatures, so much so, that every year for the past 30 years, there has been an entire week dedicated to them on TV. Each year viewers prepare for 7 days of shark stories, facts, and programming. Shark-sightings at beaches around the world get lots of media and news coverage whenever they occur. But how much do we really know about these animals? Keep reading for 15 amazing shark facts that just might surprise you!
15. No bones about it
Sharks don’t have bones! Their skeletal structure is made entirely of cartilage. Yes, cartilage! Just like what your nose and ears are made of. Because of this, it is difficult to find shark fossils to study and learn from. Any shark fossils that have been found are extremely rare, thus lending to the mysterious nature of the creature from the deep.
14. Jealous siblings
Tiger shark pups hatch inside of the mother’s womb. The first pup born will devour all of it’s siblings until only two pups remain. Scientists have found that this occurs when dominant pups are attempting to rid the mother’s womb of any littermates not sired by the same father. It also allows the two remaining more room to grow before they are born.
13. Hammerhead heads
In order to be born without jamming the mother’s birth canal, hammerhead shark’s mallet-shaped head is actually quite soft. Hammerhead sharks can also produce pups without a male through parthenogenesis.
12. Iron stomachs
Sharks are commonly found to have very strange stomach contents upon their capture and death. Some of the most interesting finds have been: license plates, tires, chairs, wine bottles, and so much more.
11. Shallow waters
Many people have a fear of sharks in open water. In fact, you’re more likely to be attacked by a shark in water less than 6 feet deep, that is where two thirds of all shark attacks occur. So, your strategy of staying close to shore isn’t a great plan to stay safe if sharks are nearby.
10. Not so common
Although shark attacks occur yearly and are highly covered on the news, shark attacks are not as common as you might think and women are less likely to be attacked than men. In 2017, 88 shark attacks were reported worldwide. Of those 88, only 5 were fatal. In the US alone, there were 16 lightning strike fatalities in 2017.
Unlike most sharks, Bull Sharks have the unique ability to go from salt water to freshwater. Their kidneys are able to process both kinds of water and their bodies slowly adapt to whichever environment they are swimming in.
8. Just keep swimming
Sharks lack the ability to push water over their gills, so they have to keep moving forward to force water through their mouths and over their gills to stay alive.
7. A spectrum of sizes
Sharks come in all shapes and sizes. They range from tiny to humongous. The smallest breed of shark is the Dwarf Lantern Shark which is only about 7 inches in length full grown. The largest breed of shark is the Whale Shark which can grow to over forty thousand pounds and up to 50 feet in length.
6. Re-purposing shark teeth
Native Americans on the east coast of the United States were able to use Great White shark teeth as arrowheads and spearheads. In fact, many teeth were found in Native burial grounds and could have had many other uses, as well.
5. Sharp teeth, sharp senses
Along with their acute sense of smell, sharks have impeccable hearing. Certain sharks can hear prey over a half a mile away. Their ears are located in their heads and are called endolymphatic pores. These holes are filled with fluid that carry the sound waves.
4. Sand paper skin
Shark skin feels very similar to sand paper due to tiny teeth like structures called dermal denticles. These little “teeth” point toward the shark’s tail to increase their hydrodynamics.
Sharks have been around for hundreds of millions of years and some prehistoric species are believed to have been around 200 million years before the dinosaurs. Due to the lack of bones, it is harder for scientists and paleontologists to pinpoint exactly when they would have existed.
2. Medicinal purposes
Some scientists believe that shark cartilage is the key to a major medical breakthrough for terminal illness treatment due to the fact that sharks can live for such a long time and have very limited reports of cancers.
1. Monster of the deep
Megalodon is one of the most talked about sharks. With it’s giant jaw and huge body, Megalodon was believed to be the most powerful predators to ever exist. Reaching 59 feet in length, this beast could have been larger than a tyrannosaurus rex. There have been many sci-fi movies made about Megalodon, including the 2018 film staring Jason Statham.
Sharks will probably always be animals that many humans fear due to their menacing looks and widely covered attacks, however, these magnificent creatures have been around for a very long time and deserve as much respect as any other animal. Scientists continue to study sharks and learn more about them. They could even become a source of cancer curing medicines one day. With the continued success of shark programming, it doesn’t look like human fascination will be ending anytime soon.