While most of us tend to think that the dinosaurs are some of the scariest breeds the planet has had, what we don’t realize is that the ocean has been home to some of the weirdest shark breeds ever! Here’s a list of some of the craziest sharks and a little bit about each of them.
01. Goblin shark
Just like the mysterious yet ugly looking creatures that goblins are, these sharks resemble goblins exactly, making their appearance extremely distinct. So, how do they look? The snout, tooth and the entire structure of the shark will make you recognize it from a mile away. Their average length is about 5 feet, but the largest fish of this species was found to be close to 12.6 feet!
They are light to bright pink, so make sure you don’t confuse him for an extra-large chewing gum! As compared to other, faster sharks, these sharks are comparatively slower and lazier, and their protruding jawlines are one of their most interesting features, making them very easy to spot in their mid-water regions. Baby goblin sharks are hatched in the mothers’ uterus, and she delivers the pups when she is fully ready to do so.
02. Basking shark
These sharks can grow to an enormous length of up to 35 feet, which is close to 10 meters; almost as tall as a 3-storey building! This species of shark are the second largest fish in the ocean, after the whale shark. While they do have the mouth and the appetite to gobble up nearly an entire sea lion or dolphin, they feed on little plankton that grow just along the coasts! The size of the mouth on these sharks is enough to give you a scare, measuring almost 3 ft. in width!
While swimming and during their eating time, they swim with their mouth open, and at first, it looks like an entire ribcage is inside, unlike the pointy teeth of the other sharks. So, where do they stay? These sharks prefer living in warm and cool waters, usually surfacing near the sun. thus giving them the pet name of “sun fish.”
03. Hammerhead shark
One look at this shark and you will know instantly where it gets its name from because it looks like a hammer has been stuck inside his mouth! With 9 different species of hammerheads, the largest one is the Great Hammerhead shark, which grows up to 20 f.t (6 m) in length and can weigh up to 600 pounds! This is one heavy hammer for sure! What are their distinctive features? Their eyes are placed on the outer edges of the hammer, allowing them a 360-degree view of the ocean, yet often they can’t see what’s right in front of them!
04. Frilled Shark
Right from the Permian period, the frilled shark species have been constantly evolving. They greatly resemble the eel species, except with sharper teeth and faster movements, and they usually have 6 to 7 gills and a single dorsal and anal fin fitted onto their bodies. What is their specialty? These frilled sharks can have from 6 to 12 pups per litter!
05. Wobbegong Shark
What are they and how do they look? These sharks are dotted and patterned and have flattened bodies. These flat bodies help them hide close to the sea floor, allowing them to be camouflaged (hidden easily from attackers). They have a huge and powerful jaw, so it’s best to stay away from them. You don’t want to get into a fight with them for sure! What kind of food does this species feed on? The sea is their buffet, so they eat pretty much anything from lobsters to crabs to octopus, and smaller fish on a day when they are less hungry!
There are many kinds of Wobbegong fish, such as tasseled Wobbegong, Japanese, Ornate, Northern and Western, each with distinctive characteristics, but largely having the same physical looks.
06. Thresher Shark
Imagine the tail of the shark being almost as long as the shark itself! That’s the Thresher shark for you. This species gets its name from its unusually long tail or its caudal fin and is also called a Fox Shark. With three living species of this shark still existing in the ocean, experts continue to wonder if there could be more swimming around in the sea. It is believed to be a cousin to the Megamouth Shark and is known to measure at least 20ft (6m) and weighs up to 216 pounds.
Now, sharks are known to be cold-blooded animals unlike humans, who are hot blooded mammals. However, the Fox Shark possesses an endoderm by which they can produce heat through their body, making this an extremely unique feature. These sharks are viviparous, allowing the eggs to evolve in the mother s uterus until the time of birth. Between 2 and 5 pups can arrive at a time!
This species of shark, also known as the American Sawshark, lives in the Atlantic Ocean. You could recognize this shark from a mile away due to its flat, long sword-like snout with serrated teeth on either side! They prefer the deeper waters to live and swim in, and have about a total of 48 teeth on its flat, protruding snout, which possibly helps them in feeding and prying their prey out from the deep sand beds. With this species, the young pups are held inside the mother until she is ready to deliver them.
08. Prickly Dogfish
The name itself comes from the way the shark looks and how its skin feels. This shark prefers to swim and live in the deep waters and is one of the members of a large shark family known as Angular Rough Sharks. If you look at the shark just once, you will realize it doesn’t look so mean all the time and it looks almost chubby! This shark is rounded and slightly humped, like a speed breaker, and because it stays close to the bottom of the ocean, the body type is efficient for its species.
This shark has plump and fleshy lips with teeth that resemble blades at the bottom and spear-like teeth on top, but they usually don’t attack humans while hunting, so don’t be afraid if you do encounter one on a rare occasion while swimming!
09. Megamouth Shark
One of the few sharks that have been spotted in the last 30 years around the waters surrounding Japan, the Megamouth is one dangerous looking shark. Yes, simply the size of its mouth is very large, and they also have special grates or grills meant for filtering anything they consume. Jellyfish or plankton is a real treat for them, but they are open to eating just about everything. All in all, they are not fussy eaters!
What you first noticed about the Megamouth shark is the unusually large size of the head, which is undoubtedly too big for the rest of its body. They also have lovely looking lips that help in its eating and filtering process. How big are these fish, really? About 13 to 16 feet in length and about 2700 pounds in weight! That’s one heavy shark! Since very few sightings of this shark have been recorded, scientists are still busy finding any other information about this big fish that will help in its survival.
10. Angel shark
This species of shark is said to have 19 different variations of the same breed! With a triangular shaped body, these sharks prefer to swim in the inner tidal waters where it is cooler and are sometimes even found on mud or sand! They usually have about 5 gills, two dorsal fins and are flat overall. This species is ovoviviparous, meaning their eggs hatch inside them and when their offspring are born alive, they usually come out in groups of up to 25!
11. Cookiecutter shark
If only these sharks got their name owing to the number of cookies they ate! They are, however, members of the “sleeper shark” family and typically look like the dogfish sharks (mentioned and described above). Possibly resembling the color of a yummy chocolate chip cookie, this shark seems to be named after the cookie-shaped (rounded) wounds it seems to make on the body of its prey.
Open its mouth wide and you will notice some of the largest teeth amongst all other sharks! They use these teeth to take nice round chunks of their prey, leaving potential round marks on anyone they attack. This is also how they get their name.
They have a cool technique of being able to emit a greenish glow from their bodies, categorizing them as bioluminescent fish! They basically glow when they are hungry, trying to attract their prey to them just before they strike!
12. Helicoprion – Tooth Whorl Shark
One look at this shark and you would definitely wish it to be extinct! And just in your luck, this species, which hails from the ratfish family, is said to be an extinct one! A fish that lived almost 270 million years ago, this sharks entire lower jaw is composed of a wheel of teeth, also giving it another popular name: the tooth whorl shark! Back then, what did they feed on? Possibly on soft foods like squid, eels or water snakes.
This one is yet another pre-historic fish known to have existed in the Pennsylvanian Period. This extinct fish is said to have never shed his teeth and instead used a mechanism by which the triangular teeth interlocked at the root and pushed older teeth forward as newer ones formed at the back! Its famous teeth is what left marks in the soil and rocks, through which scientists were able to gamer information and trace back to how that shark lived in its day.
When scientists came across this fossil, they were first confused as to whether it really was a shark at all. The Xenacanthus resembles a slender eel shaped body that primarily had a spine standing out from the back of its head! From the fossils, scientist could measure it to be just about 2 feet tall and only 5 to 10 pounds in weight. Some palaeontologists think the spine jutting out from its skull could have been earning poison, maybe to keep away larger predators (attackers). Very good records and evidence have been kept about this species of fish from the time it was found, which was also maintained well over the years.
Strange protrusions from their body structures often set sharks apart from others, and the stethcanthus has ironing board-like protrusions sticking out of its body on the male species. In Greek, the word is means “chest spike,” clearly describing the shark as it looks. At 6 ft. in height and weighing about 100 pounds, this heavy fish fed on a variety of marine animals and was a relatively smaller shark.
Ending a Shark’s Tale
Sharks have always been the big, scary creatures of the sea. For a species that has existed since 400 million years ago, they have evolved over the years and gone through several changes.
But if you think sharks are scary today, just step back in time (with the help of books and pictures) and have a look at the kind of sharks that existed back then! The pre-historic sharks of the Ordovician era, which was many millions of years ago, were quite terrorizing looking! Over the years, fewer sharks have come close to the killing machines they once were.
Sadly, many of the bigger and awe-striking sharks today are disappearing from the waters of this world, and while they are the most ferocious fish of the lot, sharks also need to survive as part of the Earth’s eco balance. Large groups of people have come together to join hands to make the waters a safer place for these sharks.
This article attempts to give you an insight into the world of these wonderful sharks. While we do know a lot more about sharks nowadays, a certain part of the shark world will always remain a mystery embedded deep down into the ocean bed.