Blogs & Videos: Sharks

Illustrations of a crocodile and a shark with spiral teeth

Extreme Animals Competition: Saltwater Crocodile v. Helicoprion

In the Extreme Animals Competition, we’re looking at some of the fastest, fiercest, and strongest members of the animal kingdom. While the prehistoric shark Helicoprion went extinct millions of years ago and saltwater croc still roams today, these two competitors in the Scary Chompers category both have some impressive jaws. Saltwater crocodile: Patient, powerful attacker Vital stats: 

Graphic of a shark pointing to different physical characteristics

What Makes a Shark a Shark?

Sharks seem to have it all figured out, evolution-wise. Fossils of prehistoric sharks go all the way back to 450 million years ago, and sharks like the ones we know today emerged about 200 million years ago. This means that they survived the mass extinction that took out the dinosaurs and lived long before early human ancestors evolved less than two million years ago. So, what makes a shark a shark? Here are just a few of its unique physical features:

Sharks Sharks Sharks & More Sharks

There are 12 living Orders of sharks and rays swimming in our oceans today, and more than 440 known species. Here are some of the wackier ones!  Thanks to Caleb McMahan and Sue Mochel for their help in producing this episode and allowing us to film in the Fishes collection area! Special thanks to David Shiffman (@whysharksmatter) for his help, support, advice, and fun facts about sharks! Additional thanks to Joe Hanson (ItsOkayToBeSmart) and the folks at PBS Digital Studios for helping to put this great series together. :) 

Sharks and Soup

From the salt-cured fish eggs of caviar to snails roasted in garlic, the human race has come up with many strange delicacies, some of which are offered locally.  In fact, Chicago’s Chinatown is famous for offering products derived from dried shark fins, such as shark fin soup – a broth delicacy containing fibers of cartilage from shark fins.  Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding shark fin soup has little to do with its texture – several of the shark species from which the fins come are endangered or vulnerable, raising questions about their conservation.

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