12 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Sharks From Jaws and Open Water to Shallows and The Meg, sharks have been terrifying moviegoers for decades. Sharks may have a bad reputation as bloodthirsty killers, but there is more to them than their on-screen personas. Sharks are intelligent creatures and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are over 500 species of shark roaming the Earth’s oceans, and they all have an exciting story to tell. 8 most common shark species The Bull shark The Shortfin Mako Shark The Tiger Shark The Basking Shark The Whale Shark The Hammerhead Shark The Great White Shark The Blue Shark One great way to stop fearing something is to learn about it. The more we learn about sharks, the less we find them terrifying, and the more we can appreciate how interesting they are. With that in mind, here are 12 facts you might not have known about sharks. Fact 1. Sharks are ancient beings The first sharks lived more than 400 million years ago, long before dinosaurs walked the Earth. Despite being around for so long, sharks have changed very little. If you went back in time, chances are you’d be able to recognize a shark if you saw one. Fact 2. Sharks do not have any bones. Bones can be brittle and can break under stress. This would get in the way of the shark’s ability to move underwater. Instead, their skeletons are composed of cartilage, a flexible and smooth elastic tissue that helps sharks move fluidly underwater. Fact 3. Almost all sharks have to keep swimming to be able to live. Most sharks cannot pump water through their gills like most fish can and have to keep moving to help force water through their gills. The only sharks that are exempt from this are the ones that lie flat at the bottom of the ocean, like angel sharks, and the nurse shark, which moves water through its gills by opening and closing its mouth. Fact 4. Most sharks are born alive, not hatched from eggs. The gestation period varies from species to species, with the most prolonged gestation going to the frilled shark. They are pregnant for over three years. Fact 5. Instead of scales, sharks are covered in denticles. This gives sharks their smooth looking skin. However, if you were to touch a shark, you’d discover that although it seems sleek, sharks have a similar texture to sandpaper. Denticles fall off as the shark grows, and are replaced by larger denticles. Fact 6. Sharks have incredible senses of hearing and smell. Certain sharks can hear prey in the water from 3000 feet away. Even more impressive than their hearing is their smell. Some sharks can detect one part blood in 100 million parts water, and can even tell which direction the smell is coming from. Fact 7. Sharks can only swim forwards because their fins are very stiff and cannot be controlled by their muscles. They make up for this limitation by being incredibly flexible and fast swimmers. Fact 8. Like trees, sharks come with rings that show their age. You can find their age rings on their vertebrae. Fact 9. Hammerhead sharks have soft heads at birth to keep them from damaging their mother’s birth canal. Fact 10. Sharks do not have vocal cords, so they cannot make any noise. so they cannot make any noise. However, they can communicate with each other using body language, such as swimming in a zigzag, shaking their heads, and hunching their backs. Fact 11. Sharks are found in every ocean on the planet. A few species, like the bull shark, can even move between salt, fresh, and brackish waters. Fact 12. For every human killed by a shark, humans kill two million sharks. Over 100 million sharks are killed every year, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are killed for sport, or to create fashion pieces. More commonly, they are killed for their fins. Sharks that are caught for their fins have their fins cut off their bodies, and are then tossed back into the ocean to die a slow and painful death. Sharks are a cornerstone of our oceans’ ecosystem. While movies may paint them as being violent, sharks are vital to the oceans’ survival, and ultimately our own. Without sharks to keep the oceans in balance, the lives of everyone on Earth, including humans, will be in danger. Despite this, shark populations have been dropping worldwide. This has to stop. By spreading the truth about sharks, we can fight the stigma against them, and help these fascinating, intelligent animals thrive.