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 Shark Anatomy

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Anatomy
© Shark Foundation
Sharks have highly developed brains and thus cannot be degraded to "stupid eating machines".
Their liver not only serves as an energy reservoir but is also an efficient alternative to the swim bladder of many bony fish.
Special capillary networks (rete mirabilis) enable several sharks species to maintain their body temperature via the ambient temperature, as birds and mammals can.
The valvular intestine (spiral valve) is also a distinctive feature of cartilaginous fish.
What differentiates a shark from a bony fish?

Sharks have a spinal column and are thus vertebrates. However, their skeleton is not made of bones, but of cartilage, and together with their nearest relatives the rays and the chimeras they form the class of cartilaginous fish. Fish such as eels, trout, cod or tuna have a bony skeleton and thus belong to the class of bony fish. Sharks differentiate themselves both physiologically and anatomically from fish, for example through their ampullae of Lorenzini and their valvular intestine, although these differences are not so obvious from the exterior.

Catshark
© Shark Foundation
Illustration: Cartilaginous skeleton of a catshark.

Cod
© Shark Foundation
Illustration: Bony skeleton of a cod.


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