According to the Natural History Museum, sharks can be traced back to 195 million years ago. The shark belongs to the superorder Selachimorpha and sharks are found in almost every ocean of the world. Sharks commonly don't live in freshwater, but a few shark species (like bull sharks and river sharks) can swim in both freshwater and seawater. All sharks can go deep in the ocean up to 7000 ft (2.1 km), while some shark species live deeper under the oceans, at around 10,000 ft (3 km). The Portuguese dogfish shark is recorded as going deep under the ocean at 12,100 ft (3.7 km)!
There are around 470 different shark species and it is believed that there are many more species of sharks that are still unknown. The biological name of a bull shark is Carcharhinus leucas, and this species can have a lifespan of up to 16 years. Female bull sharks are bigger in length than male bull sharks and they can swim up to 12 mph (19 kmph). The scientific name of the Greenland shark is Somniosus microcephalus. These are true sub-Arctic sharks who live in the cold waters of the North Atlantic around Iceland, Greenland, and Canada. They choose cold waters of between -1 C and 10 C, and in summer when there is warm weather, they go deeper into the water to find a colder environment. They can eat almost anything, and these marine creatures can live for 200 years, according to scientists! Their swimming speed is very slow at 0.98 ft/s (0.3 m/s). No one can consume the meat of this particular shark species as it contains a very high level of urea, which has a urine-like odor.
A shark's skin is made up of tiny teeth-like structures called placoid scales. Because of this, their skin feels like sandpaper to touch. They have around 30000 teeth and each species has a different teeth structure. Mako has pointed teeth, whereas white sharks have triangular, serrated teeth. A sandbar shark will have around 35,000 teeth over the course of its lifespan. They also have strong jaws which help them eat tough and hard materials.
According to the IUCN, sharks are at risk of becoming endangered. An unfathomably large number of them are killed due to overfishing and the growing demand for their fins. Overfishing is not only the reason behind this decline in their population though, another reason is climate change. Only a few sharks like freshwater, and most of them like seawater, but the water's changing temperature has left many sharks struggling to survive in recent years and seawater has become an uncomfortable place for them to live.
A wide range, including Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, and Critically Endangered
Where you'll find them
The Arctic, the Atlantic, the Indian, the Pacific, and southern oceans
Shark Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a shark?
A shark is a type of fish.
What class of animal does a shark belong to?
Sharks belong to the Chondrichthyes class.
How many sharks are there in the world?
There are around 470 species of sharks in the world, but their exact population is not officially recorded.
Where does a shark live?
Sharks live in the Arctic, the Atlantic, the Indian, the Pacific, and southern oceans.
What is a shark's habitat?
Sharks live in oceans. Their habitat depends on their species, most sharks are cold-blooded and enjoy cold waters, but a few species prefer living in warm, temperate waters.
Who do sharks live with?
Sharks do have a social hierarchy, but they tend to live alone, and not in groups.
How long does a shark live?
Sharks have a lifespan of 20-30 years.
How do they reproduce?
They can reproduce by two different methods, both sexually and asexually.
What is their conservation status?
Different species of sharks have different conservation statuses. Different shark species have a wide range of statuses, including Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered and Critically Endangered.
Shark Fun Facts
What do sharks look like?
Most of these species are not very pleasant to look at and they can be very intimidating. However, there are a few shark species that are pleasant to see in an aquarium. They have a sleek tubular shape and are found in different colors that vary from gray to cream, brown, yellow, slate, or blue, and some have patterns with spots, bands, marblings, or protrusions.
How cute are they?
Most sharks are not typically seen as cute. They are the apex predators of the ocean, and they undoubtedly look the part! They do get hunted by other predators as well though and some species of sharks look cuter than others with their large eyes and dainty snouts.
How do they communicate?
Sharks communicate with their senses of sight, smell, electro-perception, and body movement. They can produce sound without vocalizations.
How big is a shark?
The size of sharks depends on their species. Most sharks are medium-sized at 4.9-6.9 ft (1.5-2.1 m) long. Of the 350 species, half of them are under 3.3 ft (1 m) long. The whale shark is 46 ft (14 m) long and weighs up to 23 tons (21,000 kg) whereas the spiny dogfish shark is 4ft (1.2 m) long and weighs up to 159 oz (4.5 kg).
How fast can a shark swim?
A shark has a swimming speed of 5 mph (8kmph), roughly the same speed as the fastest Olympic swimmer.
How much does a shark weigh?
The weight of different sharks differs according to their different species. The great white shark weighs 2.5 tons (2,270 kg), the whale shark weighs 23 tons (20,930 kg), and the hammerhead shark weighs 0.5 tons (453 kg).
What are their male and female names of the species?
Both males and females of the species are known as Oxyrinchus. They do not have distinct names for the two genders.
What would you call a baby shark?
A newborn shark is called a pup.
What do they eat?
Most species of sharks are mostly carnivorous and feed on tuna, sea lions, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and mackerel. Some are also considered to be planktivore as sharks like to feed on plankton. A few species of sharks also eat birds.
Do humans eat them?
Yes, in Japan and China, it is believed that sharks' meat has medicinal benefits.
Would they make a good pet?
No, sharks are wild animals and should be left in the wild or homed in professional aquariums.
Did you know...
Nearly 100 million sharks disappear every year, and most of us are unaware of this fact. This amazing creature from marine life is at risk from overfishing by humans, so much so that some species of sharks are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Reef sharks are considered the most important part of marine life. There are five types of reef sharks: blacktip reef sharks, gray reef sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, and the silvertip reef shark, found in the Indian and Pacific oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea. They can't go deeper than 260 ft (79 m) in water, prey on crab, lobster, shrimp, and squid, and are viviparous by nature.
Mako Sharks are well-known as 'bonitos' and 'blue pointers'. These creatures are large sharks and measure up to 10 ft (3m). Mako sharks are warm-blooded and are a close relative of great white sharks. They are oophagous in nature and have a swimming speed of 21 mph (33 kmph).
Hammerhead sharks are from the Sphyrnidae family. These sharks mate once a year and can give birth to 20-40 pups at a time. The bonnethead is a species of hammerhead shark that is omnivorous in nature, and they feed on seagrass. They are at risk of becoming endangered due to overfishing and the demand for their fins. The scalloped hammerhead is another species of hammerhead shark that is a coastal pelagic species and is viviparous by nature. The population of scalloped hammerhead sharks has decreased by 95% in the last 30 years in the Atlantic Ocean.
The scientific name of a whale shark is Rhincodon typus. Whale sharks can grow up to 40 ft (12.2 m) in length and whale sharks are not at all related to whales. Each whale shark has its own unique pattern of spots, much like human fingerprints. Their skin is incredibly tough, it is covered in hard, tooth-like scales, which are called denticles and they are ovoviviparous in nature.
The largest fish predator. the great white shark is 15 ft (4.6 m) in length. The great white shark gets its name from its color, which is gray with a white underbelly. The great white shark can swim at speeds of up to 37 mph (60 kmph). They have a set of 300 sharp, triangular teeth and they use their gills for taking in oxygen.
Sharks can fossilize even though they don't have bones and, interestingly, the dried jaws of a shark are heavy and solid, much like bones.
Many of these species have amazing eyesight, they have a reflective layer of tissue called a tapetum behind the eyeballs, which helps the shark to see clearly even in dim light. Also, sharks have electroreceptor organs that help them to sense electromagnetic fields and temperature shifts in the water.
Do sharks attack humans?
Sharks don't attack people often. If a shark does attack a human, it's generally an instance of confusion in the water.
What are sharks afraid of?
Sharks are afraid of their predators. For example, great white sharks are afraid of killer whales. Orcas can also kill sharks by working together. Sharks can also be terrified of dolphins if there are a lot of them in one territory.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including the grey reef shark, or the zebra shark.
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