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15 Beyond Fascinating Facts About Sharks That Most People Don't Know

Updated May 28, 2020 30.3k views15 items

When you think about sharks, you probably picture a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. Thanks to amazingly awful shark horror movies, people generally share a deep fear of the creatures. While there have been various incidents of real-life shark attacks throughout history, sharks are not the natural man-eaters people imagine them to be. In fact, scientists agree that you're more likely to be killed by a coconut than by a shark

Sharks are actually astounding creatures that, contrary to popular belief, don’t go around targeting every person in sight or capsizing boats out of revenge. They don't get enough credit for the positive roles they play in the oceans. For example, without sharks, the oceans would be riddled with dead aquatic life or overpopulated with fast-breeding schools of fish. This is because sharks will often feast on carcasses and consume dense sea life populations, which helps to keep the oceans clean, healthy, and balanced.

So, to all the shark haters out there: don't hate, appreciate! Discover some fascinating shark facts and learn why sharks really are the bad*sses of the sea. 

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  • Some Sharks Can Walk On Land

    Four new species of walking sharks were discovered in northern Australia and New Guinea in January 2020. Scientists from several research institutions spent 12 years studying walking sharks before announcing the new species. According to Mark Erdmann of Conservation International, the "bottom-dwelling sharks actually walk using their pectoral and pelvic fins" rather than swim, which allows them to "poke their heads under coral and rocks as they look for small fish, snails, and crustaceans to eat." 

    The walking sharks evolved just 12 million years ago, and are therefore the youngest shark species known to man. In 2016, scientists reported nine species of walking sharks. The four new species were found in what's called "Bird's Head Seascape," where they may have "hitched a ride on a drifting island." Apparently, the small, patterned animals cannot move across deep waters because they are unable to swim, so the only way for them to travel to distant locations is for their reefs to move. 

    Though they live on the ocean floor, walking sharks can in fact walk on dry land. They are not a threat to anyone other than "small crustaceans and mollusks." 

  • Female Sharks Fertilize Eggs Without A Male

    Most species require both a male and a female to create life, but sharks are not like most species. Thanks to a phenomenon known as parthenogenesis, female sharks can breed once and store the collected sperm until a later date for self-reproduction. Female sharks do this for protection during the mating season because males are especially ferocious when it comes to mating, as they tend to bite and injure females while participating in courtship rituals. 

  • Sharks Use Electric Fields To Detect The Heartbeat Of Prey

    Sharks have special sensory organs known as ampullae of Lorenzini, which are deep pores found around their snouts. The ampullae are sensitive electroreceptors that help with hunting. A shark uses this electroreception sensory system to detect electrical activity that fluctuates from its prey, such as a creature’s beating heart.

  • Sharks Have Roamed The Earth's Waters For Over 419 Million Years

    Sharks have been around for over 419 million years and have adapted to increase their survival rates. For example, the great white is recorded as the largest predatory fish in the ocean, averaging 15 to 20 feet long. While great whites may sound intimidating in stature, there was an even larger predatory shark that lived millions of years ago called the megalodon

    Megalodons resembled the great white in every aspect, save for its immense size. In length alone, the megalodon was said to have grown up to 59 feet!