We all know that sharks are the most feared creatures in the sea. We do not see them often, but when we do, it is always a good idea to be on our guard.
But do you think they have bones? Surely not! Think again. Sharks do have bones- many of which are hidden from view by their cartilage and tough skin.
In this article, I am going to reveal what parts of a shark’s body are made out of bone – as well as 5 amazing facts about these fascinating creatures!
First of all, If you are in a hurry and looking for an on-point answer. Here it is.
Do sharks have bones? Sharks do not have bones, but they still have a tough skeleton. They are also classified as vertebrates. This means their cartilage forms a skeletal structure, just like in humans. Sharks can be lightweight and fast because their cartilage is denser in some parts of the body than others.
- Do Sharks Have Bones?
- What Do Sharks Have Instead Of Bones?
- Is a Shark’s Jaw Made Of Bones? How Is That Strong?
- Which Sharks Has a Skeleton Made Of Bones?
- Why Do Sharks Have No Bones? What Do Research Say?
- How Does a Shark’s Skeleton Works?
- How Do Sharks Grow If They Don’t Have Bones?
Do Sharks Have Bones?
In a shark’s body, there is no bone. Sharks do not have skeletons because their skeleton is made of cartilage and other tissues which make up the sharks’ tough skin and muscles.
Sharks do not need bones to maintain their shape as we do with our internal skeleton system. The jaw of a shark does contain hard cartilage.
Sharks do not have lungs with air sacs, instead, they extract oxygen from the water through their gills that are on the side of the head.
Sharks do not grow like humans do by adding new bones as they get older; sharks do continue to grow but in length and width rather than height throughout their entire lives.
Also read: Do sharks have taste buds? They have 2** taste buds in their mouth!
How Many Bones Are In a Shark’s Body?
So we know sharks don’t have bones in their body. How many bones do they have? The answer to that question is none.
Although sharks do not have bones the structure of their body still keeps them stable and maintains their shape as our internal skeleton system does for us.
Sharks do however contain cartilage instead of bone to keep their bodies sturdy. Cartilage takes up a large space inside the shark’s body, which is why sharks do not stay small in length.
There are roughly 300 species of sharks that have been identified as having cartilage instead of bones to maintain their bodies’ structure.
Also read: Do sharks have tongues? The answer will shock you!
What Do Sharks Have Instead Of Bones?
The skeleton of a shark is made up entirely of cartilage. Sharks do not have bones in their body, but instead, they have cartilage. That can be found throughout the body and tail to help give them support when swimming through deep waters.
Cartilaginous skeletons are more flexible than bone which means sharks do not run into any problems with brittle bones.
Sharks also do not have a rib cage, or collarbones to support their body in the same way that humans do. Which makes them more flexible and able to move quickly when hunting for prey.
Sharks do though still require some form of skeletal structure to help give them strength while they are swimming and to protect their internal organs.
Is a Shark’s Jaw Made Of Bones? How Is That Strong?
The jaw of a shark is modeled in such a way that it can open very wide.
The bones do not extend the full length, because the upper half has no bony support and relies on soft tissues to provide structure.
However, this means that sharks do have some bone inside their jaws, but only at one end. They do have cartilage in the upper part of their jaws, but this is much less dense than bone would be.
Which Sharks Has a Skeleton Made Of Bones?
The sharks which have a skeleton made of bones are the most popular and well-known sharks: Tiger Shark, Great White Shark, and Hammerhead Sharks.
The skeleton is made of tough connective tissue (also called cartilage) which supports their body weight as they move through the water quickly with ease.
It also protects them from predators such as seals or other big fish who want to eat them for dinner.
Most sharks have skeletons made of cartilage, not bone. Sharks do have bones in their bodies but they are very small and fragile which makes them useless for protection or during movement.
So instead, they rely on the tough connective tissue surrounding many of their body parts to do this job. This is why some people call it a “cartilaginous” skeleton instead of a “skeletal” structure.
Why Do Sharks Have No Bones? What Do Research Say?
In research, it is found that sharks do have some bones in their body. But they are too small to do any work so they rely on the tough connective tissue which is stronger and more efficient.
It was also found that since sharks do not have many or large bones it makes them very flexible. This allows them to swim faster through the water while having an easier time maneuvering around obstacles.
However, there is a side effect of having no bones in the body and that’s how much weight they can carry around when fully grown.
Since sharks do not have any strong structures to support their weight such as bone or muscle.
It means that when they get bigger and heavier their bodies just become more flexible which makes them lose speed and become slower.
This is why as they do not have bones in their bodies. Some sharks do prefer to live alone and do not grow too big. Since it would be a problem for them when hunting prey or traveling long distances while looking for new habitats.
Also read: Do fish have tongues? Here is the exact answer you need to know!
How Does a Shark’s Skeleton Works?
A shark’s skeleton is made of cartilage, not bone. Sharks do not have a rib cage as we do; instead, they rely on their stiff and flexible cartilaginous spines to work as support for the rest of their bodies.
Cartilage does give way under pressure though so it needs to be thicker in certain places.
Sharks do not have an outer shell like turtles do, but instead, the scales on their skin are hard and protect them from being cut up by sharp objects when they rub against each other during feeding or mating rituals.
In addition, sharks do not have a diaphragm as we do. Instead, they rely on their gills to pump water over the internal organs when swimming toward the surface for them to breathe.
It can be very difficult for sharks to get enough oxygen this way though because of all the lactic acid built up in their muscles after strenuous activity.
Sharks do not have a four-chambered heart as we do, instead, they only have two chambers in their hearts.
The blood moves through these chambers so fast that it can cause the red blood cells to get stuck together and form clumps called rouleaux.
These clumps of cells slow down the circulation which makes more work for the heart.
Sharks do not have a urinary bladder as we do, so they expel the nitrogen waste that is produced by cell metabolism through their gills just like they do with carbon dioxide gas when breathing underwater.
This way of getting rid of unwanted bodily toxins means sharks do not need to drink water for this process to happen.
This is how sharks’ skeleton works.
Coming to our last section. Which is running in my mind while reading this article. How do sharks grow if they don’t have bones in their body? Let’s understand the answer to this query. Read on!
How Do Sharks Grow If They Don’t Have Bones?
Sharks don’t normally grow as humans do. When a human baby is born, the bones and teeth do not develop until later in life. Sharks do not have bones; instead, they begin with cartilage that eventually changes into bone.
Sharks do indeed have skeletons made of bones, though these do not ossify like ours do (i.e., the bone does not replace cartilage).
The two main parts of a shark’s skeleton are the backbone and the cranium. The backbone is made up of tiny calcified blocks called vertebrae.
These do not ossify into the bone during their lifetime, but they do provide support to the body.
Shark skeletons do not contain any marrow or red blood cells, as do the skeletons of humans and most other vertebrates.
So, this is how sharks do grow as do most fish with a cartilaginous skeleton that will not ossify into bone.
Also, check: Do sharks have ribs? The answer is surprising!!
Yes. Sharks do have bones! However, the answer is not that simple. While some parts of the shark do contain bony structures, other features are made entirely of cartilage.
These different kinds of skeletal structures do serve the same function but do so in different ways.
The bony structures do provide support and protection against harm. Meanwhile, cartilage is important in the development of the shark.
Because sharks do live in habitats that do not allow for bones to survive and be preserved, paleontologists do not know a lot about what fossils look like when it comes to these creatures!