Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
7 of the Most Uniquely Fierce Sharks

7 of the Most Uniquely Fierce Sharks

[ ♪ Intro ] Sharks come in a lot of different shapes and
sizes, and not just big, bigger, and “God, help save me!” Worldwide, there are at least 500 different
shark species, and most of them aren’t the bazillion-toothed, seal and surfer-terrorizing nemeses of the deep that Hollywood tells us they are. The great white may have a bite force of more
than one and a half metric tons and a top speed of 40 kilometers per hour, but that stuff is almost boring compared the other species out there. Because slashing, shredding, and dismembering
with mere teeth and/or brute force is not interesting enough for many of nature’s
weirdest sharks. No, these sharks went down evolutionary roads
that produced adaptations like slingshot faces, chainsaw snouts, glow-in-the-dark skin, and
lifespans that rival trees. The Greenland shark looks like a poorly executed
granite sculpture of a much more attractive species, and that’s not even the weirdest
thing about it. In 2016, researchers discovered that Greenland
sharks may be the world’s longest-living
vertebrates. The oldest one they tested
was at least 272 years old, although it could have been as old as 512. Even the low end of that range is way longer
than the previous record-holding vertebrate, the bowhead whale,
which lives for about 200 years. Greenland sharks have such a long lifespan that females probably don’t reach sexual maturity until they’re around 150 years old, which seems like a really long time to wait
for that first date. Now, we don’t know a ton about these sharks. It hasn’t been that long since we discovered
they live so long, and biologists hadn’t studied them much before that. But researchers think the secret to the Greenland
shark’s long life might be the bone-crushingly cold water it lives in, which is usually around 1-10 degrees Celsius. The cold water probably lowers the shark’s
growth rate, along with its metabolic rate, or how quickly it uses up energy. The cold might even affect its genes. Researchers studying nematode worms have found
that cold temperatures can activate anti-aging genes. Sharks are not worms, obviously, but some
scientists think something similar might happen for the cold-loving Greenland shark. The genes might help the shark’s body fold
proteins, for example, keeping it healthy for longer. Misfolded proteins become more common as an
organism ages, and they can cause age-related diseases when they accumulate. The cold could also activate genes that help
the shark fight off infection or get rid of molecules that could damage its DNA. Either way, some of these sharks,
the individual living sharks, have probably been around since before
the American revolution. And that is just weird to think about. The thresher shark might seem sort of average
at first, that is, until you see its tail. The top half of the shark’s tail fin is
as long as the rest of its body, which has inspired all kinds of wild speculation about
these sharks taking down their prey Indiana Jones-style. Ridiculous. Until … scientists found out it was true. In 2010, sharks from one species of thresher
shark, called the pelagic thresher, were observed literally whipping shoals of sardines with
their big long tail fins. The whipping action of the tail fin has been
clocked at 129 kilometers per hour, through water! And is so powerful that it doesn’t just
kill the shark’s prey, it dismembers it. You can see the advantage: Swiping at a bunch
of prey at once means they don’t have to bother chasing around individual fish. And they don’t have to bother with cutting
their food up into bite-sized portions, either, since their whip-tail does that for them. I don’t think Indiana Jones ever tried that
particular strategy, but maybe he should have. The sawshark, meanwhile, uses a very different
weapon for its slicing-and-dicing: its face. It’s like the Leatherface of the deep, with
a rostrum, or snout, that looks kind of like a chainsaw, flat and elongated, and lined
with modified, teeth-like scales. But the saw is more than just a weapon. Sharks have electroreceptors on their heads
called the ampullae of Lorenzini, which they use to sense the electrical fields generated
by prey animals. Sawsharks are bottom dwellers, and their ampullae
of Lorenzini are located on the underside of the rostrum. That, along with the long, mustache-like nasal
barbels located about midway down the rostrum, helps the sawshark locate buried prey. Then, once the shark finds it, it can use
the saw to quickly dispatch it. Goblin sharks are kind of the opposite of
what you’d expect from a deadly predator: They’re sort of flabby and poorly toned, with long snouts and skin that’s a weird pinkish-gray color. But what the goblin shark lacks in good looks
and athletic physique, it makes up for with its own bizarre built-in face weapon: an upper jaw that can be dropped and fired at its prey, and then drawn back again. Kind of like a certain alien that once tried
to eat Sigourney Weaver. The goblin shark’s jaw isn’t directly
fused to its skull, it’s attached more indirectly, with ligaments and extra bits of cartilage. That’s what makes it so freakishly mobile. The shark stretches the ligaments to draw
the jaw back to the rest of its head, then fires it forward by relaxing them. As an added bonus, researchers think the movement
might create suction that draws the shark’s prey towards its mouth. So the goblin shark doesn’t just look like
a movie alien, it also hunts like one. But there’s a good reason for its strange
appearance, too. The shark’s skin is basically see-through
because it lives in the deep ocean, where pigmentation is totally unnecessary. And its flabby body is thought to be an adaptation
to the energy-deficient environment down there. By not having a lot of muscle, the sharks
save the energy they’d otherwise use to maintain it. Goblin sharks are also thought to spend more
time hovering than swimming, probably for similar energy-conserving reasons. Although it’s clearly also hovering because
that’s just super creepy and it’s really good at that. The wobbegong is more of a stealth killer,
with an arsenal of strategies for attracting, apprehending, and ambushing prey. The shark has wiggly lobes on its upper lip,
which to prey, look like yummy things to eat, or maybe a safe place to hide. Except that really, the prey are the yummy
things to eat, and the lobes are the opposite
of a safe place to hide. Scientists think the lobes also help the wobbegong
blend into the ocean floor, where it spends most of its time. Because its prey often comes to it, the wobbegong
doesn’t have to waste a lot of time and energy hunting its food. It just hangs out and waits for its takeout
order to arrive, usually in the form of fish, cephalopods, and other small, doomed creatures. Prey doesn’t even have to come very close,
because the wobbegongs can send their mouths out to meet their prey, independent of the
rest of their bodies. One species, the spotted wobbegong, can extend
its mouth further than the length of its own head. Like the goblin shark, the motion enlarges
the shark’s mouth, which also generates suction that traps prey as it passes by. And if that doesn’t work, they do have another
option: some wobbegongs have been observed sneaking up on their prey. Extra, super creepy. The frilled shark, named for the frills on
its gills, is sort of like an eel, sort of like a snake, and sort of like a thing that tried to eat the Millenium Falcon in the Empire Strikes Back. What it’s not very much like is a shark,
at least not most sharks as we know and recognize them. It really looks much more like an eel … until
you see its bizarre, backward-facing teeth. Scientists think these strange teeth might
be used to lure prey. They’re bright white and stand out against
the dark skin of the shark, so curious fish might be tempted
to come in for a better look. Since the teeth face backward, they hook the
prey and make it very hard to escape. The frilled shark’s mouth is also long and
flexible, like a snake’s. That allows it to open its mouth really wide,
swallowing prey up to half its body length. Frilled sharks live at depths of 120 to 1,200
meters, and they aren’t seen very often, so we don’t know exactly what their feeding
behavior looks like. But scientists think the arrangement of the
shark’s fins, combined with its natural buoyancy, suggests that it might, like, hover
in the water, and then strike at passing prey like a snake. The catshark doesn’t have a whip for a tail,
or a saw for a head, or hooks for teeth. It has a different type of clever adaptation
that helps it survive 500-600 meters below the surface,
where it lives: it glows in the
dark. Catsharks are biofluorescent: They have special
pigment in their skin that absorbs blue light, the only color that penetrates that far into
the ocean, and then re-emits some of the energy as green light. This strategy isn’t as common as bioluminescence, where an organism produces its own light through a chemical reaction. But scientists are starting to realize that
biofluorescence is more widespread among fish
than we thought. It’s just been hard to detect it because the glow is often too dim for us humans to see without special equipment. And in 2016, researchers discovered it in
catsharks. The sharks’ eyes, which are shaped like
a cat’s, are much more sensitive to light. They’re attuned to the blue and green part
of the spectrum, and they have long rod cells that help them see better in low light. So they can probably see the biofluorescence
pretty clearly. We aren’t totally sure what they use it
for, but the researchers think the green glow helps the sharks see each other in the dark. More specifically, it could help them find
mates, an idea that’s backed up by the fact that males and females have different glowing
patterns. In at least one species, the males’ claspers,
which they use to mate, are part of that pattern. There’s still a lot we don’t know about
why some sharks glow, or about most of the unusual qualities on this list. But one thing is for sure: To find the truly
awesome sharks out there, you have to look past those
plain old boring Hollywood sharks to their lesser-known
but weirdly fascinating cousins. Happy swimming, everyone! Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow! If you’re interested in learning more about
some of the strangest animals out there, along with all kinds of other
fascinating science, you can go on over to to subscribe. [ ♪ Outro ]

100 comments on “7 of the Most Uniquely Fierce Sharks

  1. "He who wanders through the darkness with a stick is blind. But he who sticks out in darkness is… Fluorescent!"

  2. hey, editorial note! i dont know if you guys will even see this but, goblin sharks are not actually flabby in the water! they only look so gross and weird when theyve been removed from the deep waters they normally live in, where pressure is much greater and intense compared to the light fluffy atmosphere we have up here. they get crushed under their own density (an adaptation needed for living so deep) and get all flabby.

    you can see how they REALLY look in that little diagram you showed of the stills of the shark flinging its jaws out, when its mouth is retracted! at 4:57

    this same stigma is placed around the blobfish, another deep dwelling marine animal who, when removed from the water, looks like a blob. but in the water, it looks pretty normal!

  3. You totally ignored the cookie cutter shark which… You probably know more of the creepy details of this miniature nightmare than I do.

  4. If i was a deep sea shark i would be to scared of the deep and other sharks to live a normal shark life. Thank god im human

  5. Most kids love dinosaurs when they're little. I was fascinated by sharks. And the thresher shark was always my favorite.

  6. #1: Each individual shark can lurk waiting for eating you for 500 years.
    #2: If you stay away from their jaws, they still can torn you into pieces with their tail…
    #3: …or nose…
    #4: …but they still can make their jaws being thrown towards you!
    #5: And if you wish a typical reef sandbed is safe because there are no sharks in sight, one might be ambushing you under the seabottom.

  7. Fierce and Deadly sharks and you don't even mention the Bull Shark, the worst of the lot.
    They not only can, but do thrive in freshwater.

  8. Finally a video of my favorite 5 sharks. I love sharks so much and Hollywood really needs to back off the great white shark

  9. Hmm… so maybe the "sauropods using the end of their tails like a whip to scare off predators" theory might not be that far fetched after all.

  10. So just remember that there is a shark out there that was alive when Lincoln was assassinated and will still be alive after everyone alive today is dead.

  11. It is well noted that half the earths oceans were never explored. So, There are still way more sharks out there waiting to eat you.

  12. So I was just looking at a bunch of pictures of sharks and all the different species just look like they’re photoshopped from the same shark.

  13. What if someone could make a giant refrigerated tank for Greenland Shark conservation when the seas are too warm? How long before we had all the knowhow for that?

  14. Goblin shark face weapon is its face!
    And that's why everything can't see down at the bottom.. they don't wanna.
    "Boring Hollywood sharks" ? But great whites are beautiful! And they keep me from purchasing new swimsuits every year!

  15. 'It takes a female 150 years to reach sexual maturity, it seems like a really long time to wait for that first date' – you know Hank f*ck on the first date.

  16. Interesting information but and it's big BUT!! Get rid of this rapid talking person as he's terrible to listen to!! God I can't stand his rapid speech! Bye!

  17. 3:54 for reference

    The top view of the shark looks like an old man who saw a kid but the kid was doing something he hate.

  18. whenever I see these videos, I think about the fact that millions of years ago a random gene was mutated and it lead to this

  19. You no sawsharks ar not a shark at al its a ray sharks have ther gils on the side end the sawshark dont it has it on the ider side on its stamek and not on it said so its a ray

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