15 Incredible Facts about Sharks

by Unbelievable Facts5 years ago
Picture 15 Incredible Facts about Sharks

A lot of us perceive sharks as these bloodthirsty, evil, snapping and biting things. Thanks to movies like Jaws, Deep Blue Sea, etc, they have got a slightly undeserved reputation as the bad guys of the ocean and seas.  However, the more you read about them, the more you realize that these fearsome sea creatures may be one of the most misunderstood of them all. In fact, humans have been proven to be more deadly for them, than vice versa. Read on to find out cool facts about sharks that sound fantastically fake, but are completely true.

1 More people are killed by coconuts, pigs, lightning, and taking selfies, than by sharks. 

Shark and taking Selfie
Image credit: Pixabay

Sharks are definitely not tame or even the friendliest fish in the sea. But they may be less of a danger to us than previously believed. According to the Shark Foundation, people are more likely to win the lottery, get killed by pigs or falling coconuts than get bitten and killed by sharks. New Yorkers are more likely to bite ten times more people than sharks do! Between 1959 and 2003, there were 1,857 people who were killed by lightning in coastal USA alone. During the same time, 740 people were involved in shark accidents, out of which 22 actually died. In Canada and USA, 40 people are killed by pigs each year. That is six times the number killed by sharks. In 2015, 12 people died while attempting to take selfies, as compared to eight shark deaths. (1,2)

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2 Sharks have been on earth for 50 million more years than trees! They appeared around 400 million years ago, whereas trees have been around for 350 million years.

Cladoselache Fyleri Fossil
Image credits: James St. John/wikimedia, Nobu Tamura/wikimedia

The Pelagic Shark Research Foundation and the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research have reported that sharks have lived on earth for approximately 400 to 450 million years. They have been through, and survived, four global mass extinctions. There are now more than 470 species of sharks present worldwide. Interestingly, the earliest known species of trees, Archaeopteris, existed about 350 million years ago, according to a report published in 1999 by three scientists, Brigitte Meyer-Berthaud, Stephen E. Scheckler, and Jobst Wendt. (1,2)

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3 Some of Greenland sharks alive today were born before the English Civil war. The world’s oldest shark may have been alive at the same time as William Shakespeare.

Greenland shark aka Somniosus microcephalus and William Shakespeare
Image source: wikimedia, wikimedia

Now, we already know that sharks have been swimming around for hundreds of millions of years. But did you know that the Greenland sharks are also the world’s longest living vertebrates with a lifespan of 272 to 400 years?

In an article published in 2016, by Julius Nielsen of University of Copenhagen and his team, they explain how they used a carbon-14 dating method on the eyes of dead female sharks to determine their age. The oldest was 392 when it was caught, four years before the report was written. (1,2)

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4 In a golf course in Brisbane, the local wildlife includes at least six bull sharks who accidentally found themselves in the lake after a flood in 1996 brought them there. They now have a golf tournament named after them.

Bull Shark in Golf Course
Image source: RT video screengrab

Bull sharks are generally known to be aggressive predators who can survive in both seawater and freshwater. Since the flood in 1996, they began to be spotted at the Carbrook Golf course lake after the flood waters receded. They have bred and multiplied since then. Being residents of this Australian golf course has brought them worldwide fame and players have often reported sighting their fins over the water, although the exact number is still not known. They are almost eight to ten feet long, and are sometimes fed meat by the club manager. (1,2)

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5 Female sand sharks may have up to 50 embryos, out of which the biggest one cannibalizes the others. Scientists say that it is a “competitive strategy” where the eggs are from different fathers.

Carcharias Taurus aka Sand Shark
Image credit: Amada44/wikimedia

According to the research done by Demian Chapman and his team of marine biologists from Stony Brook University, the largest shark embryo eats all its siblings, save one. They deduced that this happens when the eggs fertilized by different fathers compete and the survivor gets to be born. This is called intrauterine cannibalism, or adelphophagy, which means “eating one’s brother.”(1, 2)

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6 Sharks can lose as many as 30,000 teeth in their lifespan and regrow them. This is because they are not actually teeth, but scales.

Nurse Shark aka Ginglymostoma Cirratum's teeth
Image source: wikimedia, wikimedia

Shark teeth are actually modified placoid scales having the same structure as teeth. They have an outmost layer of enamel, with dentine and central pulp cavity. Most of them have five rows of teeth, which when damaged, is replaced by the ones in the row behind it. The ones in the front are used and are also the largest. The nurse shark’s teeth in the front row get replaced every ten to 14 days during the summer when it is more energetic, as compared to winter. (1, 2)

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7 The Great White Sharks have a specific hangout place in the Pacific Ocean called the White Shark Café.

White Shark Café and White Shark
Image credits: Elias Levy/flickr, Obtund/wikimedia

In 2002, researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, identified an area between Hawaii and Baja California, where great white sharks from all over coastal America gather in winter and spring. They were tracking these sharks via satellite tags, when they discovered that this species frequented this area of the ocean, and unofficially named it the White Shark Café. However, this area has very little food for them, and it is not their mating ground either. Therefore, the reason for the sharks travelling for as many as 100 days to get to this destination is still not known. (source)

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