In a literal sense, it’s difficult to imagine a creature more fearsome than the shark. Sharks are ocean lords, blockbuster movie stars, and subjects of curiosity for any rational person who gets giddy every year when Shark Week rolls around. These magnificent beasts alternate between terrifying horror and unending curiosity in our eyes.
However, despite the public’s fascination with sharks, the ordinary person knows very little about them. We embarked on a treasure quest for those razor-sharp chompers, which hold a treasure trove of secrets and surprises. The 50 most fascinating facts about our toothy pals may be found here. Some will endear you, while others will have you running for the shore. For more secrets from the seven seas, go here.
1. Shark embryos fight one another. Shark embryos have been known to attack one another due to their toughness. Intrauterine cannibalism is when the largest embryo in a shark litter eats the other embryos in the litter. Sand sharks were studied for this occurrence, and researchers discovered that “While the journey may begin with 12 littermates, all but one are devoured by the pack’s largest member. Because of this approach, sand tiger sharks can have substantially larger offspring at birth than other shark species, keeping the young ones safe from predators.” Also, don’t miss these 40 Wonderful Animal Facts for more amazing animal facts.
2. Sharks have extrasensory perception. Sharks can detect prey by tapping into the minuscule electrical fields that other creatures emit using microscopic organs called ampullae of Lorenzini, in addition to their deadly sense of smell. These tiny pores near their nostrils, around their head, and beneath their snout are almost imperceptible. Long, jelly-filled bulbs connect the pores to nerves beneath their skill.
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3. Hammerhead sharks have the most of it. There’s a reason why hammerhead sharks have such strange-looking heads. It has about 3,000 ampullar pores, which allow it to detect electrical fields in the ocean. “The hammerhead’s enhanced ampullae sensitivity helps it track down its preferred prey, stingrays, which are generally hidden beneath the sand,” according to MNN.
4. Hammerhead sharks can see in all directions. Another benefit of hammerheads’ unusual heads is their amazing vision. According to a 2009 study, their eyes are positioned in such a way that they have excellent binocular vision and can view 360 degrees. “Hammerhead sharks’ eyes are slanted slightly forward,” according to BBC Earth, “enabling their range of vision to substantially overlap.”
5. A type of shark is the world’s longest fish. The whale shark, which may grow to be 40 feet long, is the world’s largest fish and holds the distinction of the world’s largest fish. If you happen to see one of these in the sea, don’t be alarmed: its main food is plankton, which they consume by “filter-feeding,” which involves scooping up a large amount of ocean water and filtering out the tiny plants and animals—difficult it’s to catch a human in that circumstance.
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6. Female sharks are often smaller than male sharks. Females in most shark species are larger than males, owing to the fact that they must carry shark offspring. Also, don’t miss the 33 Missing Treasures Experts Say Are Real for more intriguing ocean facts.
7. There are hundreds of different shark species. Angel, bullhead, carpet, and dogfish sharks, as well as a weasel, mackerel, crocodile, zebra, and even catsharks, are among the almost 500 species of shark. They come in a variety of sizes ranging from a few inches to 40 feet long, live in a variety of habitats, and have an odd collection of morphological traits.
8. No, sharks do not all live in the water. Just when you felt it was safe to enter the water again… Sharks can be found in all of the world’s oceans, although a few species have been found in freshwater lakes and rivers. Bull sharks, for example, live in tropical rivers and have evolved to swim in both saline and fresh water. River sharks have been discovered in rivers in South Asia, New Guinea, and Australia, as their name suggests.
9. Sharks can be pregnant for up to two years. You would think nine months is a long time, but the spiny dogfish shark species can take up to two years to mature before giving birth, making it the longest gestation period of any vertebrate.
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10. You can, in fact, ride a shark. The largest shark species is also one of the most laid-back. Hitchhiking swimmers have been observed to be picked up by whale sharks, who then cruise through the ocean atop them. Experts in the field of marine life, however, warn against making this pastime too popular. “When people put a lot of time and pressure on a fish, it removes the slime covering and could have detrimental health consequences for the species,” said marine researcher Bruce Neill to ABC News.