For the next few months we’re going to share some facts about the whale sharks every week with you. In this first episode we’re talking about the taxonomy & classification of the whale sharks!
The whale shark may be harmless, but it’s a true shark, because it has a skeleton made from cartilage, that is lighter and more flexible than bone. Its skin is covered in dermal denticles, for parasite repellent and hydronamica and it has several rows of replaceable teeth, very sharp teeth.
These features have made sharks very successful animals. They have been dominant species on Earth, pre-dating dinasaurs by 220 million years. Today there are 440 different species of sharks ranging from smallest, the lantern shark, to the largest, the whale shark. Sharks live in many different geographic and vertical habitats and some like the bull shark and river shark can survive in fresh, brackish, and salt water.
The whale shark is one of the Orectolobiformes (carpet sharks) and is the only species in the family Rhincodontidae. It doesn’t have any very close relatives but it does share some features with other carpet sharks like the nurse shark and the zebra shark. For example, they all have two dorsal fins and their mouths are positioned at the very front of their bodys – in front of their eyes. The zebra shark also has clear ridges along its back like the whale shark and the nurse shark has similar nostrils.
There are two other large filter feeding sharks, the basking shark and megamouth shark, but they are in the mackerel shark order and are not closely related to the whale shark.
If you are interested in facts about the whale sharks, make sure you read this blog every week. If you want more information and want to get the latest news from EcoColors subscribe to our monthly newsletter!