One of the best ways to determine different species of sharks is by looking at their fins.
All sharks have the same types of fins to help them navigate the waters and hunt more effectively. Their fins have evolved over millions of years and all have a specific purpose. So to help understand how sharks use their fins and to help recognize different types of sharks by their fins, we have put together this guide so you can understand shark fins.
Evolution Of Fins
Shark fins have developed over 450 million years of evolution. The very first known shark, the Xenacanthus, more closely resembled an eel than a modern shark. The Xenacanthus had a ribbon like dorsal fin that ran down the length of it’s back and connected with its anal fin. Fast forward a hundred million years to the Cladoselache which had evolved four dorsal fins along its back. Nature then got really creative around 330-320 million years ago and created an interesting variety of dorsal fins from the unicorn like horn of the Falcatus to the dorsal fin of the Stenthancantus that looked like an spiked anchor. It wasn’t until around 100 million years ago, that shark fins started to really resemble what they are today. These fins developed as a result of environmental pressures and helped ensure that sharks would have truly efficient fins.
The Biological Structure Of Fins
Shark fins are long and stiff. They are attached to the body with cartilaginous rods that extend off the skeletal frame of the shark. These cartilaginous rods are called ceratotrichia, and help support the strength and rigidity of the fins so they help sharks swim quickly and with impressive agility.
Types Of Shark Fins
Shark fins come in a unique range of sizes and shapes, however all sharks have basically the same fins. Sharks all have a pair of dorsal fins, a pair of pectoral fins, a pair of ventral fins, and a caudal fin. Some different species of shark also have a singular anal fin. Understanding how to recognize each type of fin and how they help a shark navigate through the water is crucial to understanding the biology of sharks.
Types Of Shark Tail Fins
Shark Fin Diversity
Though different species of sharks all have the same basic fins, the size and shape of a shark’s fins are incredible diverse. For example, some species of ground sharks like Catsharks have dorsal fins located closer to their heads rather than their tails. Sharks like Angel Sharks and Wobbegongs have pectoral fins large enough they are often mistake fro rays. While the Thresher Shark’s Caudal fin is so long, it literally uses it to slap and stun prey and predators. It is this diversity of fins that help scientists categorize and label the different species of sharks.
Understanding the types and purpose of the different shark fins, helps you understand how sharks are able to move through the water so gracefully. Though the size and shape of a fin may vary among different species of shark, all sharks generally have the same fins. These fins are an amazing biological adaptation that have helped sharks dominate the oceans for hundreds of millions of years.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.