The ocean is deep and strange and sometimes full of teeth. We’ve all heard of Jaws, the most famous great white shark in history.
But did you know there are around 500 species of shark and that some of them are either rare, super weird or both?
From the ancient monster with a mouse like a buzzsaw to the modern era giant which lives more than 500 years here’s the 15 most rare shark species hidden in the ocean.
01: helicopteron shark.
The helicopteron is one massive predator that we no longer have to worry about while out doing a little swimming in the coastal waters.This giant went extinct around 250,000,000 years ago.The fossil records, including some important recent discoveries, have allowed scientists to put together a fascinating picture of the helicopteron.
An example found in Idaho led to researchers concluding that the huge fish could grow to as much as 40ft or 12 meters. That’s twice the size of the great white.
Another fascinating aspect of the helicopter is the formation of its teeth and jaw.And it’s just this which has given it the nickname the buzzsaw shark.
The wall of teeth resembling a buzzsaw was a mystery for many years as attempts were made to construct the creature from these few remains and the wall was placed in a variety of positions on the fish’s body before, finally, in 2013, they decided once and for all. It was a bizarre protrusion from the lower jaw which allowed this species to catch and eat prey more easily.
Furthermore, they were able to conclude that the helicopter was a kind of ratfish rather than a shark although they are close relatives. But this rat shark monster, whatever it was turns out to have been the biggest and most successful predator of the during its lifetime as well as one crazy looking fish.
02: Greenland shark.
Here’s another pretty damn huge fish the Greenland shark. Although modern sharks can’t compete to their ancient ancestors in terms of size, these sharks, who mainly inhabit the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, can still grow to around around 22ft or 7 meters in length. The average size of a mature adult is more like 13ft or 4 meters.
And this full size is achieved at around age 150. That’s right. These sharks only reach adulthood at 150 years old. That means that parent Greenland sharks today have had to put up with teenagers since the American Civil War. 4.9s In fact, radiocarbon dating from the eye lenses of some individuals has placed their age at least 500 years old. That makes this the oldest vertebrate species on Earth.
Think about that. There are sharks in our seas right now who were born at a time when King Henry VIII was on the throne of England and the Spanish were still at war with the Aztecs in Mexico.
Although the Greenland sharks live far from humans, they are now a near threatened species, often accidentally caught in trawler nets. Let’s hope these sharks get the chance to fulfill their incredible longevity more often.
03: whale shark.
Keeping on the theme of huge size, here S, a champion fish, the largest fish in the world still alive today, the whale shark.
The name might be confusing to some, but these giants are definitely sharks and not mammals, although some of their behavior can resemble that of whales. For a start, their size is certainly whalelike, and they tend to grow to around 40ft or 12 meters in length, which is as long as a school bus, and their mouths are around 5ft or one 5 meters wide.
These huge mouths help whale sharks with filter feeding. This pretty much means opening that face hole as wide as possible and letting water pass through the body with internal organs, picking up any morsels of food. This makes whale sharks a little less aggressive than their predatory cousins.
Whale sharks can live pretty much anywhere in the world where the waters don’t get too cold, and they seem to particularly enjoy the Red Sea, where the normally solitary creatures sometimes gather to feed.
These sharks live a pretty long time, too, up to 150 years, although the chances of seeing one in the wild are pretty slim these days, with their population declining by almost 65% since the 1950s, making these spectacular giants both fascinating and extremely rare.
04: Megamouth shark.
The megamouth shark. Can you see where this one is going? There’s a clue in the name right there.
This shark has, you guessed it, a really big mouth. Similar to the whale shark, the Megamouth is a filter feeder, and in fact, the two species are closely related, with the Megamouth being a little smaller.
However, that mouth is up there with the best of them, giving it a characteristic gaping look, which, while kind of terrifying, is only designed to catch small stuff.
Where the Megamouth stands out is its incredible rarity. These sharks are so mysterious, we hardly know anything about them. And in spite of its size, we only discovered their existence as recently as 1976. Overall sightings amount to barely 60 encounters.
Since these giants prefer to live in the deepest oceans without increased trawling of the deep seas, for new fish species to be marketed as human food, we may never have known of these sharks, but unfortunately it is the same trawling which destroys them as we discover them.
With many of the Mega mouths we have been able to study, having turned up dead nets. Hopefully we can unlock the mysteries of the behaviors and lives of the Megamouth without disrupting their natural environment One day.
05: Bamboo shark.
From the giants of the shark species we go to one of the smallest the bamboo shark. This shark is also sometimes known as the cat shark due to its long whiskers which function as a sensory gland and it helps to navigate the ocean floor as well as pick up the movements of predators and prey.
These sharks can sometimes grow to 3ft or a meter long and are a form of carpet shark, that is sharks that swim slowly around the ocean floor looking for morsels of food to eat.
They themselves are a delicacy in Madagascar and their habitat ranges all across the coastal waters of the Indian Ocean. While not the rarest sharks out there, their bamboo coloring certainly makes them tricky to spot on the ocean floor.
They have special teeth which they can rotate in their mouths, one side being sharp and pointed for tearing into softer forms of prey, while the other side is flatter and adapted for chewing onshelled prey while protecting the sharp part of the tooth from damage.
This is one shark you could get to know yourself as they are popular additions to home aquarium. That said, this shark is sometimes capable of virgin birth where females produced young without ever having made it. So if you happen to purchase a single female bamboo shark, you might end up with a few more mouths to feed than you had bargained for with this miraculous little shark.
06: Frilled shark.
Here’s one shark that looks like it just gave up on evolving, feeling pretty happy with its utterly terrifying prehistoric features. The beady green eyes and crinkly brown skin are just some of the features which make this look like a living fossil.
And it also swims like a snake, waving its body through the water until it encounters its favorite prey squid, which it snaps up and often swallows. All its rows of sharp needlelike teeth are ideal for tearing apart softbodied squid, but it will happily eat other fish and sharks if they come close enough.
Finally, the gills have a kind of Frilled shape, which gives the shark its name as well as the look of a 16th century courtier. Well, kind of. These sharks are mysterious and rare, living deep in the ocean, and we know little about them. Our best guess is that they are one of the rarest shark species on Earth, although whether they are endangered is unknown.
Unlike some sharks, the frilled shark gives birth to live young, with the young hatching from their eggs in the mother and then surviving on the yoke for up to 3.5 years, making it one of the longest gestation periods of any vertebrae.
07: Goblin Shark.
If you’ve ever seen the old scifi horror movie Alien, you’ll know that the most terrifying thing in all of space is the Xenomorph, the eponymous alien of the film designed by Swiss artist H. R. Geiger with one intention to scare the living daylights out of you.
One feature most people remember from the Xenomorph is that when it opens its mouth, another mouth creeps out to finish sucking the brains out of its victim. While you don’t have to go to outer space to find such a creature as there’s one right here in our oceans the goblin shark.
These sharks live down onto the ocean floor, most often in the seas around Japan, and are named for their resemblance to the terrifying goblins of Japanese folklore. They can grow up to 12ft or 4 meters in length and are colored an unusual pink just to add to their charm.
They are extremely rare, and we have only been able to study the few examples which have occasionally shown up in fishing nets. But their most striking feature is their extendable jaw.
They have extra long noses which make detecting prey easier, but at the same time, the little fish and mollusks which form their diet that extra split second to get away before the shark’s mouth can react. Except the goblin shark can thrust its jaws out of its mouth to trap its prey in truly horrifying fat. Truly, nature is sometimes just jaw dropping.
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08: Nurse shark.
The nurse shark is definitely not the rarest shark on our list. In fact, these sharks remain quite abundant in their natural habitat, which is the bottom of the sea in shallow, warm waters of the eastern Pacific and western Atlantic.
Their names comes from the old English word meaning bottomdwelling shark hearse, which over time became nurse, and they do make a strange sucking sound as they go about their business feeding on the ocean floor. Not unlike that of a nursing baby, they are slowmoving and not particularly dangerous to humans. Although at up to 14ft in length, that’s four 2 meters. They are impressive giants.
Some divers have discovered that the smaller ones can even be extremely friendly to humans, stopping to be petted and dropped and seeming to enjoy the attention like the puppy dogs of the ocean floor.
That said, an angry nurse shark will give a diver a pretty nasty bite if it feels like it, so maybe not best to get too friendly. They are prized for their skins, which, being unusually smooth, make high quality leather and the oil produced by their large livers. While under pressure from human activity, we can at least expect nurse sharks to prosper in the wild for some time yet.
09: Angular, Roughshark.
This little shark, which lives down on the muddy seabed off the coasts of Europe and Africa, is both rare and vulnerable, and it looks a little like a tiny sailboat with its large protruding fins, as well as a body which has a kind of triangular shape to it.
Like other bottom dwelling sharks, the angular, rough shark breathes through spiracles behind its eyes. And on this shark they happen to be particularly large, giving these guys a little bit of the crazy eyes look.
Maybe this is the reason behind one of the the myths associated with the angular upshark that it brings bad luck to fishermen for this reason, and that it has no commercial value, fishermen do their best to avoid catching these sharks.
Furthermore, unlike a lot of sharks, even being caught for a short time seems to be fatal. And there are no cases of accidental catches being thrown back and surviving. They were thought to have gone extinct in the Adriatic Sea, but recent sightings have given hope of a comeback. Good news for sharks, but bad news for superstitious fishermen.
10: Thresher shark.
The Thresher shark is one of the most fascinating species of shark in our oceans. A close relative of the great white shark, this species has one very distinctive feature it’s enormous tail.
The tail on a thresher shark can be almost as long as the shark itself. And one of its benefits is that it gives this species a huge speed advantage, making it one of the fastest sharks in the sea. Capable of swimming at speeds up to 30 mph or 50 km h.
The name Thresher comes from the farming tools that resemble the huge shark tails, and it was long assumed that the tails were used for hunting. But it was not until 2010 that the technique was finally observed. It had been believed thresher sharks lashed the tail from side to side to stun prey like sardines.
But in fact, the shark arrives in a shoal at huge speed, then uses its fins to slam on the brakes before launching the tail over its head like a huge whip, killing and stunning several fish at once, which can be eaten at leisure. And you thought it was the front of the shark you had to watch out for.
Thresher sharks are one of the rare species of sharks that have warm blood, which gives them extra speed and agility, and they have a long history with humans. First described by Aristotle and ancient Greece, they have been at the center of many myths and folklore traditions of the sea. Watch out for that scorpionlike tale, though.
11: Hammerhead Shark.
Hammerhead Shark one of the most recognizable sharks in our oceans is the charismatic hammerhead shark, with its enormous hammershaped head. There are in fact ten different species of hammerhead, with the biggest being the great hammerhead, which can grow up to 18ft or five points meters and weigh in at one £0 or 450 kilos.
The chances of meeting one of these monsters are slim, though, as the great hammerhead is in danger of extinction.
Being overfished forts fins which are eaten as soup in some parts of the world. The hammerhead shape gives the shark a hunting advantage, it is believed, as it allows the shark to carry more of the cells that allow it to sense the electromagnetic fields of its prey, giving it far better electromagnetic vision than other species.
These sharks are also known to spend a lot of their time swimming sideways, which allows for more efficient swimming. And one species is the only omnivore shark known to science, enjoying seaweed snacks along with its main diet of meat. Finally, these sharks get tanned from the sun and seem to have properties in their skin which resist cancer, helping us to understand skin cancer better.
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12: The angel shark.
Another incredible species of shark four angel shark. The angel shark is like no other shark. In fact, it’s easily mistaken for a ray. Due to its flat body. These bottom feeders prefer to lurk beneath the sandy seabed, waiting for unsuspecting prey to come just that little bit too close before their incredible strike speed sees them shoot out of COVID at a 90 degree angle to grab their meal in a jaw full of sharp teeth.
Most sharks have to constantly move to be able to breathe, allowing the water to flow through their bodies to get enough oxygen in. But the angel shark hunting style means it spends a lot of time lying still, so it has spiracles on the top of its head which pump water through its body, allowing it to breathe while motionless.
These sharks there are in fact 15 species of angel shark like to live near coral reefs in the oceans surrounding the Americas. And luckily, most of the nations in North America have now banned the fishing of this near endangered species. So we can hope to see a recovery of the angel shark, sometimes paradoxically known as a sand devil. Population angel or devil, that can only be good news.
13: Horn shark.
The horn shark, as you might have guessed from its name, has a pretty unusual appearance, with its most prominent feature being two rigid horns over each of its eyes. They also have two spines sticking out from their backs, kind of like an old TV antennae. These small sharks live off the Pacific coast of North America and have a somewhat lazy air about them.
They don’t like to swim much, preferring to shuffle along the seabed pushed by their fins. And in fact, the longest recorded distance a horn shark has been known to travel is about 10 miles, or 16 km. They might have called this the sloth shark. However, they are still predators and know how to catch a meal when they need one, and they largely hunt at night.
But they too are sometimes the hunted and our friend, the angel. Shark has been observed attempting to eat a horn shark only to spit it out after getting a nasty sting from one of the spines. So, being popular off the coast of Mexico, you might say this is one hot and spicy shark.
14: Basking shark.
Basking shark is the second biggest shark in the oceans, after the whale shark, and this giant can be found in warm, temperate coastal waters all over the world. Basking sharks are plankton eaters, just like their whale shark cousins, and they glide through the ocean with that huge mouth wide open to filter out the tiny sea creatures as they pass through.
These sharks have figured in the mythology of many countries, especially Britain and Japan, and this tradition has included even recent myth creations where the rotten carcasses of basking sharks known as globsters washing up on British and Japanese beaches have been believed to be those of ancient placiosaur or sea monsters unknown to humanity.
Furthermore, these slowmoving and nonaggressive sharks have long been popular sources of oil, food and leather, but the species is now endangered and protected in many countries.
The basking shark might also have been popular with fishermen due to having the smallest size to brain ratio of any shark, meaning they’re probably a little on the slow witted side, certainly not the Einstein of the shark world.
The smallest shark out there? Well, it’s one that the basking shark is sometimes mistaken for the great white shark.
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15: Saw shark.
Back on the list of crazy looking sharks that might belong in some kind of weird underwater carpentry kit along with the hammerhead, we have the saw shark.
This shark looks like it was designed by a high school kid with a vivid imagination, but it is 100% real and living out there in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there are, in fact now eight different species of saw shark recognized by science, with the most recent discovery coming in 2014 when a new species was identified near the Philippines.
These strangelooking creatures have their teeth protruding all along a flattened snout, which can make up almost onequarter of their body length. The snouts are used for hunting and defense, as well as helping the sharks to detect electromagnetic signals coming from their prey.
They pick up a signal and then use their snouts to dig up food from under the sandy seabed before song them to death and then eating whatever poor unfortunate mollusk happened to be sleeping there. Although they look terrifying, they are not considered dangerous to humans, mainly because they live so far from us and are extremely rare animals.
There’s only one fatal saw shark attack on record. Although rare, luckily these sharks are not considered under threat from humans living far away from our fishing areas. Which of these sharks do you think was the most incredible? What kind of random masonry tool type shark head do you think evolution will throw up next? Let us know in the comments below.
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