Meet the Horn
Shark ( Heterodontus
francisci ), named
for the high ridges atop its blunt head. The scientific name,
Heterodontus, means "different teeth." Small,
inward slanting teeth act like a fork to hold food while flat
back teeth crunch food. Bottom-feeding horn sharks eat mostly
hard-shelled animals, like sea urchins and crabs, so having nutcracker-like
teeth is a big help!
Horn sharks are found
in shallow, temperate waters of the Pacific and western Indian
Oceans (along the coasts of California, Australia and New Zealand),
and occasionally in the warmer waters of the tropics.
The average size for
a horn shark is about 3 feet in length, weighing about 20 pounds.
They are sluggish, solitary bottom feeders. Feeding mostly at
night, the nocturnal horn shark hides in rocks and crevices during
the day. Horn sharks are not aggressive and pose no threat to
to Shark Teeth
Meet the Leopard
Shark (Triakis semifasciata),
named for the spotted markings on its skin. This shark has multiple
rows of sharp jagged teeth that act like a
serrated knife to cut food. Each tooth is shaped like this:
The leopard shark is
an opportunistic feeder, meaning it's not too picky. This shark
dines on bottom dwelling animals such as crustaceans, but also
on squid and small fish. When the leopard shark bites down on
prey, its teeth come together like interlocking steak knives.
Abundant throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans, in cool to
warm temperates, the leopard shark is often found in shallow water
and muddy bays. It favours flat sandy areas, rocky reefs and kelp
beds. This is an active, strong-swimming shark, usually seen moving
in an undulating motion. Leopard sharks form large schools sometimes
mixed with other species of sharks.
to Shark Teeth
Meet the Whale
Shark, Rhincodon typus,
named for its enormous size. The whale shark is the world's largest
fish, and can grow to nearly 50 feet in length and weigh up to
15 tons! However, the largest shark has the smallest teeth - about
300 rows of tiny, residual teeth. Whale sharks don't need big
teeth because they have adapted to a diet of very tiny food particles.
Whale sharks feed by
filtering food from the ocean water. Their gills act like a giant
kitchen strainer, catching plankton and small sea creatures. Whale
sharks swim with their mouths open, sucking gallons of prey-filled
water. After closing its mouth, the shark uses bristly gill rakers
to sieve out small organisms, shrimp-like krill, squid and tiny
fish. Anything captured by the gill rakers is eaten, and the water
is expelled through 5 large gills. The whale shark can process
over 1500 gallons of water each hour!
Whale sharks are solitary
creatures. They are found around the world in warm waters near
the equator. Whale sharks are slow swimmers, going no more than
3 mph as they feed. Whale sharks are harmless to people.
to Shark Teeth
to Fun & Games