Every Tuesday, we'll share a few fun animal facts with you from experts all over the country. Today, we're celebrating Shark Week!
Today's expert: David Shiffman of the University of Miami, who studies the role sharks play as the top predator in coral reef ecosystems.
- It's true that many sharks never stop swimming, but there are also some at the other extreme. One of those is the shark with the most awesome name: the wobbegong. It spends most of its time perfectly still, camouflaged on the ocean floor, lying in wait for prey.
- Sharks have an amazing sense of smell: in some species, 1/4 of the brain is devoted to this sense...
- ...but they've got more than smell and sight to hunt with: They can detect the electromagnetic fields that all living creatures produce and even find prey buried in the sand.
- Sharks range in size from six or seven inches long (the dwarf lantern shark) to 40 feet (the whale shark, which is the biggest fish on earth).
- Not all sharks hunt for a living. Some, like the whale shark and basking shark, just open their mouths and filter their meal out of the water, similar to some species of whale.
- There's a widely repeated claim that sharks don't get cancer. This is a myth, and pills made from their cartilage won't cure it, either.
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