Types of Sharks
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Sharks belong to a distinct class (Chondrichthyes) of sea creatures, separate from fish.
All sharks share the general physical traits of having rough, scaleless skin that covers a cartilage skeleton.
They range in size from the less than one foot long pygmy shark to the forty foot long whale shark.
From that starting point, the potentially five hundred different types of sharks found in the world's oceans generally divide into eight orders based on their physical differences.
- Order Hexanchiformes: Cow and Frilled Sharks have six or seven sets of gills, as opposed to most shark species with five sets of gills.
- Order Squaliformes: The Dogfish Sharks have two dorsal fins.
- Order Squatiniformes: Angelsharks are flat bodied bottom feeders.
- Order Pristiophoriformes: Known generally as sawsharks because of the shape of their long, edged noses.
- Order Heterodontiformes: Bullhead Sharks get their name from the shape of their heads, which are above average in size, ridged above the eyes.
- Order Orectolobiformes: They go by the common name carpet sharks and are known for their sometimes colorful, camouflage bodies. The largest shark in the world, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) fits in this group.
- Order Lamniformes: The common name of the group is Mackerel Sharks and it includes the Great White Shark.
- Order Carcharhiniformes: Ground Sharks are the most common types of sharks and include species such as hammerheads, tigersharks and catsharks.
Over one-half (55.8% of global) of all the world's shark species, some 278 species, are categorized as deep water sharks, or sharks that live 200 meters below the ocean's surface.
With 119 documented species, catsharks (Family Scyliorhinidae) comprise the largest group of of deep water sharks.
More Shark Stuff
Sharks of the World - is an early FAO publication that outlines 342 shark species arranged in the 8 above listed orders.
Sharks of the World, Volume 2 is an updated version that covers Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks.
© 2009. Patricia A. Michaels