Most people are afraid of sharks. Nevertheless, they are amazing and fascinating animals, like all other creatures on the planet. Here, we delve deeper into the more interesting facts about these fearsome fishies:
1. Sharks do not have bones
Not even one! A shark’s skeleton consists of cartilage.
2. Cookiecutter shark
No, the shark doesn’t cut your cookie dough, that’s a silly idea. This parasitic shark gets its name from its peculiar feeding method. As it latches onto its much bigger victim, the shark scoops out a flesh, leaving a circular wound as if it were cut by a cookie cutter.
3. Shark reproduction
Not surprisingly, lovemaking among sharks is anything but gentle — and 50 Shades of Gray pales so much in comparison to this. In larger species, males usually grasp the female by biting during sex.
And not just that — the intercourse itself is quite rough. When a male spots a female he wants to mate with, he flips her over, holds her down by the pectoral fins, and does himself up on her.
The male shark’s sexual organ is called “claspers,” which is like a pair of penises. However, only one clasper is used at a time. During mating, the male inserts one of his claspers into the female’s cloaca (which is like a vagina). Once inside, the sharp spurs come out of the clasper to latch it in place inside the female to complete the mating process. Ouch!
It’s not surprising that females have a pretty traumatic sexual experience. During mating season, females would swim close to the shore so that males will have fewer chances to flip them over for sex. Females of some species are capable of reproducing asexually, protecting themselves from being forced into unwanted intercourse. This process is called “parthenogenesis.” Females can also use this as a last resort when they are unable to find a mate.
But the brutality doesn’t end in sex; it even continues inside the mother’s womb. A lot of sharks lay eggs, while some species may give live birth to pups. The first pup to hatch inside the mother’s womb will gobble up all of its unborn siblings, which eliminates the competition for the mother’s food and other resources.
Sharks can also have pups from different fathers in the same womb. Pups of the same father don’t usually eat each other; instead, they devour their half-siblings. This horrific reproduction procedure is called “intrauterine cannibalism,” and sand tiger sharks are usually known to exhibit this strange behavior.
4. Prehistoric animals
Sharks are among the most ancient animals in the world that are still alive today. They had been around for 450 million years even before the dinosaurs came.
5. A cure for cancer?
Sharks themselves rarely develop cancer, or so a lot of scientists claim. They have begun doing research on shark’s cartilage to look for possible cures for this disease.
6. Sharks’s sense of hearing
Not a lot of people know that sharks have an acute sense of hearing. They can detect other things that even us humans can’t hear. Sharks can pick up sounds even from thousands of miles away, such as the sounds made by a struggling prey.
7. Picky eaters… not!
Tiger sharks, in particular, will eat anything in sight from stingrays to turtles… and even boats! Their razor-sharp serrated teeth enable them to crush any object. Tiger sharks are also known as scavengers of the sea and also as man-eaters; their number of human attacks every year rivals that of the great white.
8. Whale sharks
Whale sharks are the biggest sharks in the world, growing up to 18 feet. However, these sharks are not terrifying like the other sharks, nor do they have those scary razor-sharp teeth. Instead, these gentle giants are one of only three filter-feeding sharks, and they eat only plankton or krill.
9. Sharks do not eat people (except when they’re really starving)
Despite thousands of people swimming, diving, or snorkeling in the waters where there are sharks, only 30 to 50 attacks are reported every year, with only 5 to 10 of these attacks being fatal. That just proves that sharks do not prey on humans mainly for food. In fact, in Asia alone, more people meet their deaths by falling coconuts than by sharks.
Many species of sharks are territorial, so they will bite anything in sight — including humans — even by the slightest provocation.
10. Freshwater sharks
You think that all sharks swim in the oceans? Nope! Some sharks like to swim in fresh waters such as rivers, lagoons, and lakes. These sharks can thrive on the sea too and can divide their time swimming between fresh and salt water. The bull shark comes first to mind when talking about freshwater sharks, but there are also river sharks (Glyphis) which can be found swimming on both fresh and brackish waters.