Admit it, you can’t take your eyes off the TV when you see a video of a shark, jumping into the air with their huge jaw opening wide and all those teeth. It’s just crazy! And, of course, we are getting our fill of cool shark videos many thanks to the Discovery Chanel’s Shark Week. We can’t help but be intrigued, so in honor of Shark Week, we thought we’d share some interesting facts about the sea’s most vigilant predator.
- Sharks are older than dinosaurs! Evidence suggests that sharks have been on Earth for more than 420 million years.
- Sharks are fish. Many confuse sharks for marine mammals, but they are in fact fish. They do not come to the surface for air and must rely on their gills to breathe under water.
- Sharks grow more than 30,000 teeth in a lifetime! Shark’s teeth are positioned in long rows and fall out periodically throughout their lifetime. They are then replaced by new teeth from other rows that move forward to fill the slot. Both the upper and lower jaws move and are more powerful than any other creature’s in existence.
- Sharks have a soft skeleton. A shark’s skeleton is made of cartilage, a flexible and lighter tissue that is considered “bone”. These soft skeletons are what give sharks the speed and flexibility required to aggressively hunt for food.
- Sharks come in all shapes and sizes. The smallest shark, called the Dwarf Lantern Shark, is only 8 inches long. At almost 35 feet in length, the largest shark is the whale shark and is the largest fish alive.
- Sharks can easily adapt to new environments in order to find food. The Bull Shark, for instance, can live in both fresh water and salt water.
- Sharks are smart. Testing shows that sharks are very intelligent creatures and have the ability to use problem solving skills.
- Some sharks have a very long life span. The Spiny Dogfish Shark can live more than 100 years. The average life span for most species is only 20 years.
- Sharks sleep with their eyes open. Sharks do in fact sleep and do so with their eyes open. Even more interesting, only one side of their brain sleeps at a time. This is so they can continue the cycle of taking in air as they rest.
- Not all sharks are bad. There are less than 100 shark attacks each year, 10% of those attacks resulting in fatalities. A very small handful of shark species are responsible for such attacks.
- Sharks live in the deep blue sea. Typically, sharks reside in waters 7,000 – 10,000 feet deep. If a shark is found in shallow waters, it’s due to fear of danger or the hunt for food.
- Sharks sometimes eat each other. This is what gives sharks the title of Apex Predator. They are opportunistic predators. If no other food can be found, they will eat each other.
Photo from http://www.oceanwideimages.com/