Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Creature Feature: Greenland Shark.

Want an animal that could still be around 10,000 years after humanity? Sharks. Sharks are badasses that ate dinosaurs.  If we haven't dehydrated the planet, sharks will live, and they will always be associated with Jaws music in the back of our minds.

Enter the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus). True to the name, it is native to the area around Greenland and Iceland. They are the largest species of dogfish and northernmost species of shark. Unlike most sharks that the general populace is aware of, these guys are probably primarily scavengers, picking on whatever carrion they can get. They also have live babies, just like boas and several other species of shark.

First of all, these sharks are huge. Jaws huge. They can grow up to 23 feet from head to tail and live around 200 years. Luckily for us, they swim only 1.6 miles per hour; a human can easily outdo that. If they did not have such derpy little mouths, we might be inclined to take them more seriously. Huge? Yes. Threatening? Hardly.


These sharks will eat any meat that fits in their goofy-looking mouths. Along with things that one might assume like seals and fish, Greenland sharks can eat reindeer and polar bears. Read that again: Reindeer and polar bears are on this thing's menu. Dear Hallmark: start marketing this thing on Christmas cards, because it's eating your mascots.

Did we mention that its flesh was poisonous? No? It is. The Greenland shark has an extremely high trimethyline oxide content in its skin. Sled dogs who eat the flesh won't die, but are unable to stand from the poison. In humans, the meat causes symptoms akin to high drunkenness. It tastes so much like piss that the folklore around the shark usually involves urine.

Wait a minute...what? Did I just say they actually ate that?

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