Sharks are amazing creatures, and so much has been discovered about them in recent years. Despite their ferocious reputation, these underwater giants make up an impressive part of the world’s oceans, from the cold northern seas, to the tropical Caribbean.
Even if you’re an avid shark fan, we bet you didn’t know all of the fascinating facts we’ve uncovered!
Sharks Can Have 30,000 to 40,000 Teeth in their Lifetime
Dependent on their size, sharks can have up to 40,000 teeth in their mouths throughout their lifetime! Embedded into their gums, the teeth are set in a series of rows so that they always have a new row of teeth ready.
Unlike humans, shark jaws are separate from their skulls – their upper and lower jaws move independently of one another. This means that they can lift their head, thrust their jaws forward and catch their prey easily.
Sharks Can Hear Over Huge Distances and See in Darkness
Sharks can hear sounds from up to 240 metres (787 feet) away. Even though you can’t spot them straight away, sharks have highly sensitive ears that are located in very small holes on either side of their heads. Because their hearing is so good, they can detect prey from far away and escape danger when they’re being hunted.
They also have great eyesight. Did you know that sharks have a mirror-like layer that sits at the back of their eyes (similar to that of cats), which sharpens their vision and allows them to see in very dark waters? This means that they are always aware of their surroundings and are able to swim away from predators quickly.
Juvenile Catsharks at Bristol Aquarium
Sharks Are Social Animals
Many people believe sharks to be giant, solitary hunters who rarely distinguish between humans and their natural prey such as fish and seals. But this is not the case. There are very few sharks who hunt or operate alone; most are social creatures who live in large herds.
Working in large groups like this gives sharks better protection from predators and allows them to hunt more effectively. Some sharks, such as blue sharks, hammerheads, and spiny dogfish, even create groups of ‘friends’ based on age and gender.
Sharks Are Older Than Dinosaurs
Fossilised shark-remains have been found to date back to 450 million years ago, which means sharks roamed the planet’s waters even before dinosaurs existed! The oldest known fish-like fossils are said to be around 510 million years old, and the first fossilised shark-remains were no more than 30 centimetres in length.
The larger, faster animals we know as sharks today started to emerge around 100 million years ago, and sharks are thought to have survived five mass extinctions occurring from severe climate change and natural disasters over the past 450 million years.
Many Sharks Are Endangered
Despite living on our planet for such a long time, there are many species of shark that are sadly endangered today. Currently, around 100 out of the total 470 species of shark are considered to be in immediate or severe danger, and many conservationists fear that some species could be lost to us forever.
There are thought to be many reasons for the rapid decline in shark numbers, including the use of fishing nets (which sharks can easily get caught in), and over-fishing for products like shark-fin soup and some Chinese medicines. Many conservationists believe that the negative image sharks have received in film and media has meant that fewer efforts have been made to protect them in the recent past.
So, did you know all of our astonishing facts about sharks? Or did we surprise you? Whether you’re a shark enthusiast or you’re just starting to discover how amazing sharks really are, you can find out more about their fascinating world at our wonderful shark displays or come along to Jurassic Shark this summer to learn all about these incredible creatures of the ocean!