From Sharks That Walk To Great Whites That Migrate Incredible Distances Here’s Why We Should Give These Toothy Fish More Respect
Whale sharks can manipulate the flow of water to capture their preferred food.
Bamboo sharks walk. Ninja lantern sharks glow in the dark. Whale sharks can carry up to 300 babies at onceâat different fetal stages and from different fathers. Zebra sharks experience âvirgin birth.â
These are but a mere sampling of the decadeâs most fascinating shark discoveries. Some 500 known species of these toothy fish ply our planetâs waters, ranging from bite size to bus size, and scientists are still becoming acquainted with most of them. Since 2000, when scientists discovered shark populations were collapsing around the world, research on sharks has ramped upacross many fields of study, from palaeontology to neuroscience to biomechanics.
A quarter century later, one thing is clear: Sharks are not the senseless killers often portrayed in popular culture. For starters, these fish have large brains that range in relative size from species to species.
âYour brain is like a sharkâs,â says Kara Yopak, a comparative neuroanatomist at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. In fact, as one of Earthâs most primitive creatures, sharks were first to evolve what she calls âthe vertebrate brain blueprint,â which contains well-known structures such as olfactory bulbs, the cerebellum, and parts of the forebrain and midbrain.
Here are more findings that have flipped our knowledge of sharks on its head.
Unique Features Of The Hammer
Dorsal view of the head of the smooth hammerhead Lateral view of the head of the smooth hammerhead The unique hammer-shaped cephalofoil of the sphyrnids has raised several questions as to its function, and is still not fully understood. The evolutionary success of this distinguishable diagnostic feature implies a morphological or functional advantage, and several hypotheses have been posed to describe not only why the cephalofoil came to be, but why it has persisted and diversified for over 20 million years. The majority of tested hypotheses suggest a sensory and/or prey capture advantage, ranging from enhanced stereo-olfaction and olfactory acuity , maximization of the electroreceptive search area , provision of hydrodynamic lift and enhanced maneuvering capabilities . Further hypotheses have been proposed, though still remain untested, suggesting the laterally-expanded cephalofoil may enhance anterior binocular vision , provide for an increase in the sampling area for the lateral line canals , and may aid in prey handling capabilities . Though advances have been made towards elucidating the adaptive significance of this unique characteristic, the function of the cephalofoil cannot yet be fully explained.
How Big Is A Dolphin Brain Vs Human Brain Size
I had a friend that told me he did not like to swim in the ocean because in the water we are no longer the dominant species. There are creatures that swim faster, can hold there breath longer, and dive much deeper than us.
The ocean is also home to the worlds second smartest creature, the Dolphin.
With brains larger than humans and abilities we can only call superpowers, Dolphins are the darlings of the ocean, but it is also time to recognize their brilliant minds.
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Great White Shark Intelligence
A notable sight was the seven Great White Sharks that worked together at Smitswinkle Bay in South Africa to pull a large dead Pygmy Southern Right Whale into deeper waters before feeding on it. This suggests that these animals understood the theory of flotation, even if only in very basic terms.
Their curiosity of Great White Sharks has been noted when two objects are placed in the water one resembling the shape of a seal, and the other a square.
Because the square is a shape not often seen underwater, many of the Great White Sharks in this case approached this object out of curiosity, rather than the seal-shaped one. This is a phenomenon observed in several cases and experiments.
The creature bumps and looks at the object, usually with no intention of doing it any harm.
The Animal With The Biggest Brain
The sperm whale has the largest brain in the world. Incredibly, the sperm whale has a brain that weighs around 18 pounds. This fact is not that hard to believe considering that the sperm whale is the most enormous toothed whale, not to mention the fact that its the biggest toothed predator. The males are usually bigger than the females with an average length of a whopping 52 feet and an average weight of about 45 short tons. Females are slightly smaller with an average length of about 36 feet and an average weight of 15 short tons. Newborns are the smallest with a meager average length of 13 feet with their weights averaging approximately 1.1 short tons.
To put the size of the sperm whales brain into perspective, it is at least five times as large as humans brain. Their brains have a volume of approximately 8,000 cubic centimeters. Despite their large brain size, the sperm whales have a lower encephalization quotient compared to plenty of dolphin and whale species. This low quotient means that the sperm whale is not necessarily the smartest creature on the planet. In terms of relative and absolute size, the whales cerebrum is unmatched in terms of size by any other creature on earth. The reduced olfactory system also translates to a poor sense of smell and taste. However, the auditory system is inflated while the pyramidal tract is not that well developed.
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Megalodon Vs Great White
Great white sharks are some of the largest sharks in the ocean today. And interestingly, they are also relatives of the Carcharocles megalodon.
Each of these sharks have ruled the ocean during their own eras, and most likely would not have gotten along if they had lived side by side.
Most scientists believe that the megalodon was more than 50 times the size of the great white shark.
The great white shark of today maxes out at around 5,000 pounds.
The mighty megalodon could swim at a top speed of 2.5 meters per second!
So compared to the great white shark, the Meg was almost twice as fast, which is pretty crazy considering the fact that the great white is nearly twice as fast as just about every other shark in the ocean, including basking sharks and tiger sharks.
Beluga Able To Imitate The Human Voice
Another particular case is that of NOC, the male beluga that has managed to imitate human language with complex sounds that induce us to think that it is trying to communicate with us.
In 1984 scientists from the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego, began to investigate the unusual noises emitted by belugas and dolphins over long distances for their communication. The recordings were similar to those of two people talking at a distance. But in a range of frequencies different from those of the human, without the researchers being able to understand the sounds.
The scholars speculate with the hypothesis of the mimicry of human sound, the truth is that the argument of imitation is not convincing, but rather the ability to try to communicate spontaneously with human beings.
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How Big Is A Great White Shark Compared To A Killer Whale
The great white shark appears to be the highest predator of the ocean. This is because they are big and efficient hunters.
Though great white sharks are the top marine predator, there is another predator that is overthrowing them. This is the KILLER WHALE.
Killer whales attack great white sharks and even kill them. The killer whale is able to do this because it is bigger than the great white shark.
In length, the killer whale measures up to 29.5 feet while the great white shark measures just about 19.7 feet .
Also, in mass, the killer whale weighs 5,600 kg as against 2,200kg of the great white shark. That is to say, the killer whale is bigger both in length and mass.
Sharks Have Small Brains And Are Not Intelligent
Ajemian: This is a common misconception. Sharks their brain size relative to their body weight is actually comparable to some mammals. They are capable of learning. The myth that sharks are mindless eating machines has been dispelled. They actually eat less than you think. They can go weeks without eating. They eat three percent of their body weight a day, which isnt much. You can get sharks to respond to some types of stimulus, such as giving a reward they have some cognitive capacities. Not like humans, but theyre not mindless.
We rate this FICTION. Sharks can exhibit complex social behavior and some species can communicate with body language, live in groups and even hunt in packs. Sharks and rays have some of the largest brains among all fish, with brain-to-body ratios similar to birds and some mammals.
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Great White Shark Brain
The Great White Shark is a representative for sharks as it is relatively large, and it is prolific in waters around the world and they are on average five metres long. The brain of the a great white shark is Y-shaped and is approximately 60 centimetres long. While it is not particularly large or heavy, especially in comparison to the entire size and mass of the body, there is no concrete evidence that size has a direct correlation to ability when it comes to brains.
What has been discovered is that shark species that are not required to hunt or to approach prey stealthily have smaller, lighter brains than their hunting counterparts.
The Brain Of A Shark
The brain of the great white shark is very compact and is made up of millions and millions of nerve cells called neurons. The components of the brain are unravelled and visible to the eye. This is in contrast to the brains of humans, which are rolled and folded into a rounded mass. The hind-brain, mid-brain and forebrain consist of various specialised regions. These regions appear as pearls, strung on a complex string. The brain is hollow in most places, perforated by irregular ventricles. These hollows are filled with cerebrospinal fluid, which assists in the chemical regulation of the brain.
Other Animals With A Big Brain
Interestingly, the animal with the second largest brain on earth is also a sea creature. The killer whale, more commonly known as the orca, is also a toothed whale of considerable size. In fact, in its family, the oceanic dolphin family, the orca is the most enormous of them all. Their brains weight averages between 12 and 15 pounds. Their intelligence is higher than most creatures even though it cannot be measured for certain. The idea that they are smart is more of a human perception.
The elephant is also another creature of immense size and a large brain. Elephant brains weight about 11 pounds. However, their large brains are proportionally smaller. When they are born, elephant brains already have about 30-40% of the weight they will have when the elephant reaches adulthood. The temporal lobes are extremely large with the cerebellum and cerebrum well developed. The bottlenose dolphin is also another creature that has a large brain. Their brains average between 3.3 and 3.7 pounds.
While brain sizes vary with size, the relationship is hardly proportional. In fact, the creature with the largest ratio is none other than the tiny shrew. Also, predators tend to have larger brains than their prey. The bigger the brain also means that the majority of the brain size is occupied by the cortex.
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How Big Is A Great White Shark
The great white shark is a shark species known to have quite a big body mass. Though the great white shark is big, it is not bigger than the whale shark. Hence, you may wonder, how big this shark species is.
So, how big is the great white shark? Studies conducted on the size of a great white shark show that triple the size of an average person can get the size of a Great White Shark. That is to say, the great white shark is bigger than an average adult human three times.
The great white shark is likely the largest shark that occur in all major oceans mostly cool and temperate coastal areas. There is more to the size of the great white shark. This includes the maximum size, average size, and the smallest great white shark ever recorded.
Lets find out in our extensive discussion below.
Why Are Dolphin Brains So Big
Dolphins are voluntary breathers. This means that they consciously control their breathing, even when sleeping. Dolphins, just like humans, experience REM sleep, or deep sleep.
Studies have shown that Dolphins only sleep one side of their brain at a time. This is to control their breathing, but also to have some sort of awareness of their surroundings and be wary of predators. That is why their brains are so large.
Dolphins also have a whole are of their brain dedicated to echolocation, their ability to see with sonar.
Because sound travels much better in water, Dolphins use this amazing ability to communicate, hunt, and see in dark waters.
Their echolocation abilities are so evolved that they can use sound to see details in their surroundings, look at each others pregnancies, and eavesdrop on other echolocation sounds.
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How Big Is A Great White Shark Compared To A Megalodon
The Megalodon is said to be the biggest shark that ever existed. Though this species is extinct now, it was not only the biggest shark species but was also the largest among fish species.
The Megalodon was estimated to reach a maximum size of 50 60 feet as against the largest great white shark which was about 21 feet.
So, the Megalodon is almost three times larger than the great white shark.
The megalodon also weighed more than the great white shark. It was said to weigh about 100 tons while the largest great white shark was weighing 31/2 tons.
The difference in weight is so much. Hence, conclusively, the megalodon is much bigger than the great white shark.
Myth: Sharks Don’t Have Predators
People pose the largest threat to sharks, particularly through overfishing. Sharks also die when they become ensnared as bycatch in fishing gear.
According to a 2013 statistical report compiled by researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, approximately 100 million sharks are killed around the world annually the majority of which perish at the hands of humans in the illegal shark finning industry.
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How Big Is A Great White Sharks Brain
The great white sharks brain is proportionate to its body. As such, the brain is about 2 feet in length.
As you may know, the size of the brain can affect intelligence. Therefore, the great white shark is quite an intelligent sea creature. Researchers found intelligent activities in their hunting routine.
Though the brain of a great white shark is not that big, it is capable of processing complex things around its environment.
Myth: Sharks Are Better Dead Than Alive
Even the most shark-phobic person should be thankful for the contributions these cartilaginous fish make to the environment.
Multiple shark species are classified as “apex” predators, meaning they keep the food web balanced. By culling weak or sick animals, they help maintain the overall health of the populations they prey on.
An Australian study published in 2013 correlated a decline in shark populations with the rise of mid-level predators such as snappers. Consequently, species lower on the food chain, like herbivorous fish, experienced a reduction in population size.
Sharks are also beneficial to the carbon cycle. By consuming dead matter, deep-sea sharks help disperse carbon throughout the ocean. When people kill sharks, carbon is instead released from the seafloor into the Earth’s atmosphere, which contributes to climate change.
“In science, the consequence is what is known as a trophic meltdown. With the loss of around 90% of the ocean’s top predators from around the globe, the occurrences of trophic meltdowns are now widespread,” said Dr. Peter Macreadie, a researcher at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia.
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If Youre Swimming Off Floridas Atlantic Coast Theres Probably Sharks Nearby
Ajemian: Theres a misconception that larger sharks are the only ones out there. Its a result of them getting all the press, but really its a much more diverse assemblage of sharks, most of which are harmless. Bigger animals are generally rare. The most common sharks are the smaller ones, like the Atlantic sharpnose or bonnethead, which is like a miniature hammerhead. We have lemon sharks, black tips and spinners. We can see along the coast tiger sharks, great hammerheads and nurse sharks, but theyre actually rarer than those other species. Smaller coastal species, they can reproduce relatively quicker than larger species. What people see is different than what is out there. These smaller animals pose almost no threat to people. Its just like swimming among the fishes. People dont worry about snapper or grouper, but in the end, theyre not all that different.
We rate this FACT. There are dozens of species of sharks off Floridas Atlantic Coast, but most are small and harmless to humans. And many arent too far from where you are swimming.
People Should Be Afraid Of Sharks
Ajemian: I think sharks should be more afraid of people. Sharks are part of the ecosystem and need to be treated with respect. If theres a big shark in the water, dont go up and pet it. For the most part, they are part of the scenery and we have to respect their habitat. We need to help the oceans. Sharks have a lot of important roles, ecologically speaking. Theyre wonderful animals. We dont know as much about them as we should.
We feel like this is more of a PUSH than a Fact or Fiction. Humans shouldnt fear sharks, they should respect and understand them. You should know that when you are in the ocean, you are in their territory.
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