sharks have bones and are fearsome, agile predators that have dominated the oceans for millions of years. They are also one of the most misunderstood creatures on the planet. People often wonder if sharks have bones, or what they use to support their strong and flexible bodies. The answer is yes, but they don’t have the same kind of bone skeleton as humans or other land vertebrates do. Sharks have a cartilaginous skeleton that is made up of cartilage.
This is the same type of cartilage you have in your nose and ears. Cartilage is softer than bone but still strong enough to hold muscles and skin in place. Sharks have this cartilage all over their body, but some areas of the skeleton are denser than others. For example, the ribs and the jaws are made of tougher cartilage than other parts of the skeleton.
Demystifying Shark Anatomy: The Surprising Role of Bones in Sharks
Because sharks have a cartilaginous skeletal system, it makes them lighter and more flexible than vertebrates with bones. This is an important adaptation because it allows sharks to move quickly and easily through the water, chasing prey or fleeing from other predators. It also helps them conserve energy because they don’t have to spend as much effort lifting their heavy bones through the water.
Sharks do have a skull, but it is made of calcified cartilage. This is similar to the way your skull is made, but it’s much stronger and more durable. Sharks also have teeth that are actually made of dentin, a calcified tissue that is strong and very similar to bone.