Wild Things: Strange Looking Sharks
There are close to 400 types of sharks that we know of but not all of them have been found yet. In fact, we might never see every type of shark there is - it's a big sea out there. Not all sharks look like the great white. There are several strange, weird or unusual looking sharks. Check out these three funny looking sharks.
The megamouth shark was first seen in 1976 by accident when it became entangled with a US Navy ship's anchor. The shark went years without a name and 10 years went by before another one was seen. Just over a dozen megamouths have been spotted since the first one was found.
Megamouths are named after their extremely large mouth which extends from the front of the snout to behind the eyes. They have thick, rubbery lips and a short, broad snout. The big head is almost as long as the body (not including the tail.) They grow to almost 15 feet (4.5 meters) long. They're filter feeders - meaning they use their huge mouth to draw in water and strain out small food like shrimp.
Megamouth sharks are a bit of a mystery because so few of them have been seen and fewer of them studied. One of the reasons for this might be cuz these beasts are shy and timid. When approached they'll swim downwards in their slow, steady pace.
Like the name suggests, the hammerhead shark has a head that looks like a flattened hammer. Imagine the letter T - that's pretty much the shape of this shark. The head of a shark can grow as long as three feet (36 inches) across. The eyes are positioned at either side of the head so it has good vision. Some scientists think the shape of the head helps the sharks swim faster but this hasn't been proven.
There are nine types of hammerheads. Scalloped hammerheads are one of the three species dangerous to humans. The other two are the great hammerhead (these can grow to 20 feet or six meters) and the smooth hammerhead. You'll find these guys in warm water. When I say these guys, I don't mean one or two. They like to hang out in schools and sometimes there'll be hundreds of them together. The good thing is, they feed mostly on stingrays, although they have dined on the occasional human. To kill a ray the shark uses its "hammer" to pin the ray down while it bites the wings.
Cookie Cutter Shark
The Cookie Cutter shark has a funny name but nothing about it will remind you of grandma's baking. This shark was named after the neat cookie shaped wounds it leaves on the bodies of larger fish. It's one of the smallest sharks around so it's not as scary looking as a great white or tiger shark. Because it looks like a cigar, this shark is also known as the cigar shark.
One of the most interesting things about this shark is the way it eats. It attaches itself to its food (fish, other sharks, squid, etc.) with its strong suction mouth and then twists around. The sharks lower teeth neatly slice out a chunk of flesh, sometimes twice as deep as it is wide. Then, using its hook-like upper teeth to hold onto the wedge of flesh, the lower teeth scoop the wedge out. After it lets go of its victim, it swims away and enjoys the food. Cookie Cutters have been known to feed on whales and dolphins, so basically, this shark will eat anything. They've also attacked submarines, mistaking them for food, and taken a chunk out of the ship. These little guys are fearless!
To read more about sharks, including the most aggressive shark, click here.
What animals do you think look freaky? Do you have any weird lookin' pets? Maybe your fish is crossed-eyed or your dog walks on its two front paws.
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