Sharks are among the ocean’s most fascinating and misunderstood creatures. Sharks should be better renowned for the highly unique way their bodies work, rather than for being the perfect predator.
However, the question is, how many bones do sharks have and what makes a shark a shark. This article will provide adequate answers.
How Many Bones do Sharks have?
Sharks don’t have a single bone in their bodies. On the other hand, sharks have cartilage, which is the same tissue that makes up a human’s nose and ears.
They can zoom through the ocean like torpedos because cartilage is lighter than bones. Also, because part of their bones begin as cartilage, human babies have fewer bones than adults.
Endochondral osteogenesis is the name given to this process. Shark cartilage never really ossifies as they age (turns into bone). The fact that bone has blood arteries and cartilage does not is a significant distinction.
Only Chondrichthyes, or fish with only cartilage and no bones, have Leydig’s organ. The lack of bones isn’t as awful as it appears.
However, Sharks’ cartilage is far more beneficial to them than their bones would be. While strong bones are necessary for walking on land and avoiding being weighed down by gravity, they are a pain in the water.
Important Things to Know
Bone is significantly heavier and more rigid than cartilage. A better skeletal structure in the water is cartilage. Cartilage is lighter and more flexible than bone.
More so, they can make fast turns in the water and thrash their prey wildly once they’ve got it because cartilage is flexible. The shaking motion helps their teeth grind into their prey’s flesh and depletes the prey’s final surge of vitality.
This shark is far more than a predator. In their habitats, they are the balancing force. Sharks are extremely formidable marine predators, and their size and shape contribute to their fearsome appearance.
Are Sharks Vertebrates?
Sharks are vertebrates, despite the fact that they lack bones. Sharks have cartilage skeletons, yet they still have a spinal column, earning them the vertebrate classification.
More so, there are nine different vertebrate kinds, five of which are fish. Mammalian, avian, reptile, amphibian, lobe-finned fish, ray-finned fish, hagfish, lampreys, and Cartilaginous fish are the classifications.
Two huge, tube-like sections of cartilage make up their spinal columns. The neural arches are located in the upper section of cartilage. The spinal cord is located behind several layers of cartilage.
The bottom cartilaginous tube contains the notochord. The spine of a shark is called the notochord. The distinction between a notochord and a spine is that the former is comprised of cartilage while the latter is built of bone.
Although sharks’ skeletal structures are entirely formed of cartilage, that cartilage comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each form of cartilage has a different density and function.
A shark’s skeletal structure is complex and tailored to its specific needs. The cartilage around a shark’s spine and jaw are the most frequently used.
Meanwhile, these calcified cartilage pieces are covered in calcium salts, making them extremely hard and robust. The flexibility of cartilage is sacrificed in exchange for its strength.
Jaw cartilage flexibility would be counterproductive because sharks’ robust, snapping jaws are what makes them such good predators. The shark’s spine is protected by strong cartilage around the notochord.
Are Sharks Teeth Made of Bone?
Shark teeth, on the other hand, are formed of calcium phosphate, which is stronger than bone. The teeth of a shark are as distinctive as the rest of its body.
Sharks’ teeth are embedded in their gums, not their mouths, like humans do. Sharks shed their teeth on a regular basis, similar to how deer shed their antlers.
In its lifetime, a shark will consume approximately 35,000 teeth. Sharks hunt more frequently in the summer, which means they lose more teeth.
Moreover, shark loses roughly one tooth every week on average. This is a painless procedure for the shark because the teeth are put in the gums rather than the jaw.
Other Things to Know
Shark teeth are just modified placoid scales that stick to the dental membrane rather than the skin like the rest of the placoid scales.
Denticles is another term for placoid scales. The eating and hunting behaviors of sharks determine the form of their teeth.
The Great White shark, for example, has sharp, serrated teeth that are ideal for crunching and ripping prey. The Nurse shark, on the other hand, has flat, conical teeth that are designed to smash crustaceans.
More About Are Sharks Teeth Made of Bone
The shape and size of a shark’s tooth can reveal a lot of information. The Megalodon has been researched mostly through its teeth.
We were able to determine the average megalodon’s diet without ever having to see it thanks to the shape of their preserved teeth. The teeth of a shark can reveal a lot about the shark’s existence before it lost its tooth.
However, the age of a tooth can be determined by its color. The tooth’s shape and serration can assist identify the shark’s species, while its location can reveal what the shark was up to.
Shark Unique Scales
Sharks’ every part has grown to be ideal for their specific situation and requirements. Their weighing scales are identical.
Their scales are unique to sharks and aid in their smooth navigation through the water. Denticles or placoid scales are the names given to shark scales.
Moreover, dentine, which can also be found in shark and human teeth, coats these scales. These scales have more in common with teeth than with skin.
These denticles come in two varieties in sharks. Some of the shark’s denticles are thin and ridged, which helps to reduce drag. This allows sharks to slice through the water like butter through butter.
More About Shark Unique Scales
Denticles of the second type are thicker and smoother. These scales protect the shark from being cut and make parasitic critters more difficult to infest its body.
They are important when you have neighbors like the sea lamprey. If you were to pet a shark, the surface of its body would be smooth from head to tail.
Nevertheless, It would be difficult to pet them in the opposite direction. However, it is advisable not to pet sharks around their heads or caress sharks that aren’t being managed by professionals for safety concerns.
Important Things to Know
However, the skin of sharks feels like sandpaper because they are coated with thousands of tiny teeth. A shark will occasionally lose one of its scales and must wait for a new one to grow in its place.
A shark’s scales, like its teeth, can reveal a lot about it, including its species, age, and size. We can better assist sharks if we learn more about their bodies.
Humans have been able to improve swimwear by studying shark physiology. Olympic swimwear designers have used biomimicry to draw inspiration from sharks.
The rings on a shark’s vertebrae, like those on a tree, can determine how old it is. A year in the life of a shark is represented by a collection of seasonal rings.
The appearance of these rings is caused by two factors. Seasonal rings occur on their vertebrae for several reasons. The first is because different resources are available in each season.
However, each season provides various nutrients to the shark, resulting in distinct cartilage formation. Sharks develop at an unpredictable rate, which implies they never stop expanding.
Still on Using Sharks Bones to Determine Age
The annual set of rings on the spine continues to form every year for this reason. Sharks will grow to the size that their habitats allow.
However, this method cannot be used to calculate the age of all shark species. Greenland sharks are the world’s longest-living vertebrate species.
These sharks have a life expectancy of 250 to 500 years. All of the rings on the Greenland shark’s vertebrae can be distinguished after hundreds of seasonal changes.
Another method must be used if marine biologists want to precisely identify the age of a Greenland shark. To establish the age of Greenland sharks, marine experts must examine their eye tissue.
Other Things to Know
Researchers can also utilize bomb radiocarbon to determine whether an animal was born before or after the 1960s and 1970s.
More so, animals born after the 1960s and 1970s nuclear weapons tests have a bomb pulse that may be observed in their skin tissue. As a result, most sharks’ ages aren’t determined until after they die.
A live shark would be killed by both of the present aging processes. The majority of sharks studied by scientists are tagged, which allows scientists to maintain track of each particular shark.
The Giant Skeleton of the Megalodon
Over 2.6 million years ago, the megalodon was the ocean’s most powerful creature. Scientists have only discovered the bones of these massive carnivores, but they have discovered several aspects of the megalodon’s daily life.
Megalodons were enormous, making current sharks appear to be toys. These prehistoric sea creatures grew to be 50 to 60 feet long, about the same size as a sperm whale.
They could have been as tall as 60 to 70 feet, according to some scientists. These sharks were more than just big. They were also incredibly heavy.
On the other hand, Megalodons were estimated to weigh 60 tons or 20 times the weight of a Great White shark. The megalodon has a total of 276 teeth in five rows.
Important Things to Know
Megalodons, like modern sharks, could regrow their teeth every 24 to 48 hours. Megalodon teeth were around seven inches long in adults, but just a little more than an inch in juveniles.
Despite having been extinct for 2.6 million years, fossilized megalodon teeth are widespread. The megalodon teeth that are entirely preserved are the rarest.
A whole megalodon tooth can fetch $50,000. Despite what scientists have learned about megalodon, the ancient shark’s bulk of characteristics has been lost to time.
Only the strongest parts of cartilage have survived long enough to fossilize, leaving us with only the shark’s vertebrae, jaws, and teeth.
The Sharks with Glowing Spines
There are numerous bioluminescent shark species, the majority of which live in the deep oceans. The deeper you travel, the stranger the species that call the deepwater home become.
This includes the velvet belly lantern shark. The velvet belly lantern shark may be found at depths ranging from 65 feet to about 8,170 feet.
The juvenile lantern sharks will stay near the surface, while the adult ones will dive deeper. They are most typically found between 650 feet and 1,640 feet below sea level.
More so, their luminous spines and guts will let you know you’ve located one. They light up their stomachs and spines with photophores that release light.
More About the Sharks with Glowing Spines
The organs that produce the bioluminescent glow are called photophores. Predators in the deep sea avoid organisms with bioluminescent spines.
The rest of the shark is hidden by the dark, rock-like colors. Their spines glow a vivid blue like neon and act as their own type of counterillumination.
Additionally, this is because the most deep-sea organisms have trouble with light, prey that light up their photophores blind the predator. This enables the velvet belly lanternshark to avoid predators.
Other Things to Know
Sharks’ light can also be used to attract prey including krill, shrimp, small bony fish, and even squid. The lanternshark has two organs that assist it in maintaining its buoyancy.
The first is the Leydig’s organ, which can be found in all shark species. The oil in its liver is the second way it remains afloat.
Oil makes up three-quarters of its liver. Because there isn’t enough oil to keep the velvet belly lanternshark aloft as it grows, it begins to sink. These sharks live for roughly 20 years on average.
Humans Have Learned From Shark Bodies
Frequently, the solution to an issue has already been solved in some form or another. Biomimicry is the practice of humans attempting to duplicate the effects of nature on a species for the benefit of society.
However, the study of how sharks work has resulted in numerous technical and medical improvements. More than merely making fantastic swimwear has come from shark research.
Dr. Anthony Brennan was researching how surface texture influences infection and bacteria development. He discovered that sharks do not have the same fungus and germs on their skin as whales and other aquatic species.
Brennan also discovered that the microtextures of shark skin protected them against infection. He next applied his knowledge of shark skin to catheters, which are narrow tubes used to deliver bodily fluids.
Catheter infections in medical patients can be fatal. They’re found throughout the human body, including the heart.
Interestingly, the lives of catheter users were saved and improved by developing a safer and more effective catheter. Sharks have provided humanity with numerous lessons.
They’re graceful creatures that keep our waters in check. Our oceans would become overcrowded without sharks, killing even more aquatic species. Sharks are as important as they are dangerous.
Weird Fun Facts on what Makes a Shark a Shark
1. Different Shark Species Reproduce in Different Ways
Sharks have a wide range of reproductive strategies. There are two types of species namely, oviparous (egg-laying) and viviparous (live-bearing).
After the eggs are laid, oviparous animals lay eggs that grow and hatch outside the mother’s body with no parental care.
2. Not all Sharks have the Same Teeth
White sharks have triangular, serrated teeth, whereas makos have highly pointed teeth. Each one leaves a distinct mark on its target. Over the course of its life, a sandbar shark will have roughly 35,000 teeth.
3. Some Species of Sharks have a Spiracle
This spiracle allows them to pull water into their respiratory system while at rest. Most sharks have to keep swimming to pump water over their gills.
The spiracle of a shark is placed right below the eyes and provides oxygen to the shark’s eyes and brain. Angel sharks and nurse sharks, for example, employ this extra respiratory organ to breathe while resting on the seafloor.
More so, When the shark’s mouth is utilized for eating, it is also used for breathing.
4. Each Whale shark’s Spot Pattern is unique as a fingerprint
Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish. According to some estimations, they can reach a height of 12.2 meters and weigh up to 40 tons.
Basking sharks are the second-largest fish in the world, reaching lengths of up to 32 feet and weighing more than five tons.
5. Blue sharks are Really Blue
The shark’s upper portion of its body is a dazzling blue color, while the underside is generally pristine white.
The mako and porbeagle sharks have blue coloration as well, but it isn’t as intense as that of a blue shark. Most sharks are brown, olive, or grey in life.
6. Scientists Age Sharks by Counting the Rings on their Vertebrae
Concentric pairs of opaque and translucent bands exist in the vertebrae. Band pairs are counted like tree rings, and scientists use the total to determine the shark’s age.
Moreover, If a vertebra has ten band pairs, it is thought to be ten years old. Recent research has demonstrated, however, that this assumption is not always valid.
This is because the deposition rate may alter over time, researchers must study each species and size class to establish how frequently the band pairs are deposited.
Meanwhile, validation is the process of determining the real rate at which the bands are deposited.
Sharks initially appeared in the ocean some 455 million years ago, according to fossil scales discovered in Australia and the United States.
8. Sharks can go Into a Trance
When a shark is turned upside down, it enters a trance-like state known as tonic immobility. This is why sawfish are frequently flipped over as our experts operate on them in the water.
9. Shark Skin Feels Similar to Sandpaper
Due to the fact that shark skin is made up of small teeth-like structures called placoid scales, also known as dermal denticles, it feels like sandpaper.
When the shark swims, these scales point towards the tail, reducing friction from the surrounding water.
10. Sharks have Special Electroreceptor Organs
Small black patches can be found near the snout, eyes, and mouth of sharks. These spots are Lorenzini ampullae, which are specific electroreceptor organs that allow sharks to detect electromagnetic fields and temperature changes in the ocean.
11. Most Sharks have Good Eyesight
Most sharks can see well in dimly lit places, have excellent night vision, and can distinguish between colors.
A reflective coating of tissue called a tapetum covers the back of sharks’ eyeballs. This allows sharks to see exceedingly effectively in low-light situations.
12. Sharks do not have Bones
Sharks extract oxygen from the water via their gills. They’re known as “elasmobranchs,” which means “fish made of cartilaginous tissues,” which is the clear gristly substance that makes up your ears and nose tip.
Rays, sawfish, and skates are also included in this category. Their cartilaginous skeletons are far lighter than real bone, and their huge livers are packed with low-density oils, both of which contribute to their buoyancy.
However, Sharks can nevertheless fossilize even though they lack bones. To reinforce their skeletal cartilage, most sharks deposit calcium salts as they age.
Their jaws that have been dried appear and feel weighty and substantial, similar to bone. Most shark skeletal systems fossilize well thanks to these similar minerals. Because the teeth have enamel, they appear in the fossil record as well.
At the point of this article, you must have gotten the answers to how many bones sharks have and what makes a shark a shark.
If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, do well to share it with friends and loved ones, and also, you can share your opinions in the comment section.
FAQs About How Many Bones do Sharks Have
1. How Many Bones are in a Shark’s Body?
Sharks do not have any bones. They lack any of the traits that distinguish a mammal.
2. Do Sharks have a Skeleton?
Their cartilaginous skeletons are far lighter than real bone, and their huge livers are packed with low-density oils, both of which contribute to their buoyancy.
3. Are Sharks Invertebrates?
Sharks are vertebrates, which means they have a backbone. The backbone of a shark is formed of cartilage rather than bone.
4. How do Sharks Differ From Other Fish?
Sharks are aquatic creatures. They live in water and filter oxygen from it with their gills. Sharks are distinct from other fish in that their bodies are made up of cartilage rather than bones.
5. Would a Shark Skeleton Show up on an X-ray?
This image gallery shows X-rays of sharks, their relatives, and bony fish, illustrating how some fish have cartilage-based skeletons.
6. Are Bony Fish More Related to us or Sharks?
Elasmobranchs are more closely linked to mammals (including humans) than bony fishes (sharks, rays, and skates).
7. How Much do Sharks Weigh?
The majority weigh between 680 and 1,800 kg (1,500 and 4,000 pounds), however some have been observed weighing more than 2,270 kg (approximately 5,000 pounds).
8. Is a Shark a Mammal?
Sharks are fish, despite the fact that some people mistakenly assume they are mammals because of their size and the fact that some give birth to live pups.
9. Why do Fish have so Many Bones?
Fish have so many bones because it needs bones primarily to support and protect the softer sections of their bodies, such as organs and muscles.
10. Can Sharks Bite Through Bone?
Yes, a great white shark’s jaws may crush up to 1.8 tonnes of bone in one bite.