Mega-Awesome Sharks

How do you feel about sharks?

Tiger Shark, Cryptid World, Megalodon
Tiger Shark by wildestanimal. Used with permission under Shutterstock Standard Licensing Agreement.

The majority of us are probably scared, but at the same time, we can agree they are mega-awesome sea creatures! Superstars of the deep. Are you on the side of amazing sea creature, or terrifying monster? At Cryptid World we’re somewhere in the middle at terrifying sea creature. Not only do they look cool as they stealthily glide through the waters, but they possess some incredible features that benefit mankind.

Bioinspiration and Cryptids

Mel and I always discuss our bioinspiration blog posts so we can try and include a corresponding cryptid creature-design for fun. It wasn’t hard this time. The Megalodon fit our needs perfectly.

Megalodon, Creature Design, Mel Cabre, Cryptid World

As evidenced by the enormous shark teeth found in warm coastal waters around the world, the fossil record gives us proof that this over-sized shark existed at one time. Some believe it still exists. But since there is no proof of a modern day sighting, the Megalodon has fallen into the category of the “unknown.” More on this fabulous water cryptid later on.

Living Sharks

All sharks have a few things in common. They’re made of cartilage, so only their teeth and a few vertebrae are found in the fossil record, they have several rows of teeth and are constantly shedding them, and they have six highly refined senses that dictate their behavior.

Bull Shark, Cryptid World, Megalodon
Bull shark by chatchai kusolsinchai. Used with permission under Shutterstock Standard Licensing Agreement.
  • Smell: The sharks olfactory system is a hundred times more powerful than a human’s. They can even tell where a smell is coming from depending on which nostril the smell hits first.
  • Hearing: Sharks have an inner ear that helps with balance and sound perception. They have the ability to ‘hear’ low frequency sound, leading them to possible prey.
  • Touch: Like all fish, sharks have a lateral line that extends along the middle of the shark’s body from its tail to its head. This line consists of a series of pores that lets water flow through the shark’s skin where special cells called neuromasts detect vibrations. Sharks can detect both the direction and amount of movement made by prey from as far away as 820 feet, allowing them to hunt in complete darkness.
  • Taste: Sharks don’t have a typical tongue. Taste buds line their mouth and throat to help them avoid dangerous prey.
  • Vision: The shark eye is similar to the human eye with rods to sense light and darkness and cones to see color (not all sharks have cones). Like cats, sharks have a layer of reflective cells behind their retina that allow them to see better in dark and cloudy waters, in the deep sea, or at night
  • Electromagnetism: The sixth sense. This article by the Ocean Portal Team at the Smithsonian reads, “Sharks detect the electrical fields through small pores on their head that are full of special cells called ampullae of Lorenzini. These cells are filled with a jelly-substance that conduct electric charges received from ions, like sodium and chlorine, which are found in salt water. When a fish moves its muscle to swim, the shark can feel it; when one is wounded and flopping around, it sends out a large electrical signal that will attract the shark. Sharks also use electroreception to navigate.
The Take Away

Sharks can smell the tiniest drop of blood. They can hear and feel my, I mean a fishes, movements from far away. They have a sixth sense that knows how to find me (I mean prey). Okay, maybe my paranoia is far-fetched, but I prefer to admire from a great distance.

Great White Shark, Cryptid World, Megalodon
Great White Shark by Ramon Carretero. Used with permission under Shutterstock Standard Licensing Agreement.

Aside from being a top predator in the ocean, sharks carry within their skin a couple secrets that benefit mankind.

What Scientists Have Learned From Shark Skin

Drag Reducing Technology in Swimsuits

Drag is a force which tends to slow the movement of an object through a liquid or gas. Shark skin is covered by tiny flat V-shaped scales, called dermal denticles. You can’t see them, but if you were to rub your hand across a shark’s skin, it would feel smooth one way and like sand paper the other way. Click here for a magnified image. These denticles decrease drag and turbulence, allowing the shark to swim faster and more quietly.

Olympian swimsuit designers have created a fabric that mimics the exact proportion of the shark’s denticles, hugely improving a swimmer’s speed.

Vortex Generators

A Harvard research team found that in addition to reducing drag, “the denticle-shaped structures significantly increased lift, acting as high-powered, low-profile vortex generators” that could help improve the aerodynamic performance of planes, wind turbines, drones, and cars. “The results open new avenues for improved, bioinspired aerodynamic designs.” Read the Harvard Gazette article here.

Bacteria Repellant

While searching for a way to keep algae and barnacles from attaching to the bottom of their ships, the Navy sought out Dr. Anthony Brennan, a professor of Engineering at the University of Florida. While researching, Brennan found the shark’s denticles were shaped and patterned in such a way that repelled bacteria. Scientists at Sharklet Technologies mimicked the microscopic design and created an adhesive film that repels 94% more bacteria than smooth surfaces. Here’s a video from the Sharklet website.

Other Interesting Shark Facts

  • There are more than 500 species of sharks swimming in the world’s oceans.
  • It’s illegal to hunt great white sharks in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Malta, Namibia, Israel and the United States.
  • Sharks are boneless, falling into a class called Chondrichthyes that includes sharks, skates and rays.
  • Sharks are also distantly related to the mysterious and rare chimaeras, which are found in deep ocean waters.

Back to Megalodon

It’s often speculated the Megalodon may have looked like a huge version of the Great White Shark. But, most of what we know about the Megalodon comes from the size and shape of their teeth. Here’s what we know:

  • They had big teeth. The largest reported tooth is about seven inches long. Vito Bertucci, a diver who reportedly spent twenty years acquiring an entire set of megalodon teeth (182 teeth), reconstructed the Megalodon’s jaw. He believed the jaw opened six feet wide and seven feet high. You can read about his efforts here. We can’t prove the Megalodon had 182 teeth (the BBC gives them 276), but if a great white has forty-three to fifty-four in one row, then one can assume the Megalodon had three to four times that number. This article also talks about Mr. Bertucci’s death—a  fascinating yet terrifying read.
  • They had big bodies. Depending on who you ask, it’s assumed the Megalodon weighed up to sixty tons and stretched sixty feet in length.
  • They were predatory. The Megalodon’s teeth are shaped for biting and ripping flesh, or chomping right through its prey.
  • They were probably fast swimmers.  As speed increases with mass, scientists from the Zoological Society of London estimated the minimum speed for the Megalodon at about 11 mph. Some figure it as much as 38 mph.
What if the Megalodon is Still Out There?

There is a lot of varying information on the web about the Megalodon. Like dinosaurs they’re a breath-taking fascination because they did exist. The idea such magnificent creatures swam off the shores, just out of reach, stirs the curious mind, begging the question: What if the Megalodon is still out there?

Want more of the Megalodon? Here is a super fun video speculating what would happen if the prehistoric Mosasaurus and Megalodon met? 

Are you interested in owning a Megalodon tooth? You can buy one for $5 to $1800. While Cryptid World does not endorse Fossilera, and this is not an advertisement, I found their site has a lot of detailed information about shark and Megalodon teeth. While you’re browsing, you can take a quiz to see how proficient you are in Megalodon facts.

We hope you enjoyed this article. It was a fun one to research and write. Another of my favorite fascinating creatures is the honey bee. So many gifts hidden in plain sight.

But ask the animals, and they will teach you,

    or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;

or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,

    or let the fish in the sea inform you.

Job 12:7-8

If you like Mel’s creature designs check out her cryptid pages here. Her gallery on Instagram shows many of her original creature designs.

What is your favorite ocean creature?

Are you afraid of sharks? Have you ever seen one?