Q:

How are sharks adapted to their habitat?

A:

Quick Answer

Sharks have adapted to their habitat by having streamlined, hydrodynamic bodies. Their skeletons aren't made of bone like other fish but cartilage. This makes their skeletons lighter and more flexible.

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Full Answer

Like most other fish, sharks are cold-blooded. This gives them a low metabolism and allows them to fast for weeks. However, when it's time to eat, sharks benefit from having short but wide esophagi and jaws that aren't firmly attached to their skulls. This allows sharks to gulp down their prey whole or in large chunks. Sharks' teeth are also replaced constantly.

Sharks' livers, fins and constant movement keep them from sinking. The liver is enormous and filled with a substance called squalene, which helps to keep the shark buoyant.

Sharks also have an astonishing sense of smell and can smell blood in the water as far as one-quarter of a mile away. They also have a tapetum lucidum, a membrane at the back of the eye that lets them see in low light. They can change the size of their pupils to adjust to light conditions, which is an adaptation not found in other fish.

Sharks can also sense electrical fields through organs in their heads called ampullae of Lorenzini.

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Related Questions

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    How big are sharks?

    A:

    The size of a shark depends on its species. The largest living shark, the whale shark, averages 31.82 feet long. The extinct megalodon was even bigger at about 60 feet long. The smallest shark is the dwarf lanternshark, which is only 6.7 inches long.

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    How do sharks communicate?

    A:

    Different sharks communicate within their own species in different ways; for example, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History reports that great white sharks can communicate with each other by gaping their jaws while the University of Michigan says that gray reef sharks communicate using their senses of sight and touch. In general, sharks are not believed to have linguistic communication abilities, relying instead on other senses to communicate.

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    How big can sharks grow?

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    The largest shark, a whale shark grows to a length of 60 feet or more and can weigh as much as 20 tons. Whale sharks are not only the biggest shark in the world but also the biggest fish.

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    Are sharks fish?

    A:

    Sharks are fish, but they belong to the group called Chondrichthyes, or cartilaginous fish, which is a different scientific group than most types of fish. Common fish, such as tuna or salmon, all belong to the group Osteichthyes. The distinction is based upon the makeup of their skeletons.

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