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Over the last few million years, sharks have evolved highly developed and diverse characteristics that make them impressive and formidable predators:
|► Gills||► Sink or Swim||► Muscles||► Temperature Control|
Sharks fend for themselves immediately after birth and so are born fully equipped with their own teeth. They have multiple rows that are formed in the mouth - as the front rows wear down or fall out, a new row will move forward from the back of the jaw to replace them, ensuring the shark always has a full set of razor sharp teeth.
FUN FACT – sharks replace their teeth approximately every two weeks. Some species can lose 30,000 teeth in their lifetime!
We can tell what a shark eats by the shape of its teeth – flat crushing teeth are used for shellfish, pointed teeth for gripping fish and sharp serrated teeth for larger prey, such as seals. A shark’s teeth may change with age as the diet of a pup may differ to that of an adult.
Dorsal Fins - This triangular-shaped fin on the back of a shark is required for balance. Usually a shark will have an additional smaller dorsal fin further back towards their tail.
Pectoral Fins - Sharks have two pectoral fins, one on either side of the body, which they use to steer and lift themselves in the water.
Pelvic Fins - Located behind the pectoral fins are two smaller pelvic fins. In male sharks, claspers will be associated with these, which are used in shark reproduction.
Anal fins – Some sharks have anal fins, which are believed to aid balance.
Caudal Fin – Sharks use their tail to propel themselves forward. The size and shape of their tail can vary greatly - faster sharks (such as the Shortfin Mako) tend to have shorter crescent shaped tails, whereas slower moving sharks (such as the Bluntnose Sixgill Shark) have longer thinner tails.
A high demand for shark fins worldwide has contributed to the decline of many shark species.
Many sharks must swim continuously in order to extract oxygen from the water. Through forward movement water is driven through the mouth and out over their gills in a process known as ‘ram-ventilation’. If these species become trapped for any reason they’ll be unable to breathe. Although, some less active sharks, such as Nurse Sharks and Zebra Sharks, can survive by sucking water into their mouth and squeezing it over their gills.
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