Sharks are unequivocally one of the ocean’s most easily recognizable and ubiquitously feared predators. Known for their hunting prowess and formidable jaws, there are over one thousand known species of sharks, with more discovered every year.
They aren’t just modern-day apex predators either, as fossil records of prehistoric sharks have been discovered dating back over 400 million years. This means that although prehistoric sharks differ from those of today, this type of animal has outlasted many others throughout the earth’s history, including the dinosaurs!
The most well-known prehistoric shark is the megalodon. Now extinct, the megalodon is thought to be the largest and most powerful shark species to have ever lived. It was capable of growing to over 60 feet in length and had thick, sturdy teeth adept at tearing flesh and breaking bone.
The most well-known modern-day shark is the great white; however, there are many other awe-inspiring species such as the tiger shark, bull shark, hammerhead, oceanic whitetip, and Greenland shark. The Greenland shark is particularly fascinating due to its remarkable longevity. It has the longest lifespan of any known vertebrate species, 250 to 500 years, and reaches sexual maturity at 150 years old!
Fun facts about one of the ocean’s most enduring and adaptable creatures:
- Sharks do not have bones. Instead, they have cartilaginous tissues (the same kind of cartilage that’s in our ears and noses).
- Most sharks do, in fact, have good eyesight.
- Sharkskin feels abrasive and rough like sandpaper.
- Some species lay eggs, while others give birth to live young.
- They can be found in almost every ocean habitat in the world.