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Shark Week Profiles: Thresher Shark

August 13, 2012

Source: Visit50.com

Species: Common thresher shark
Scientific name: Alopias vulpinus
Length: 15-20 feet
Weight: 510-1,00 lbs
Distribution: Damn near everywhere.
Aliases: Fox shark

Look at this magnificent BAMF. The thresher shark is best known for it’s long thresher-like tail (upper caudal) fin, which can be as long as it’s body. That awesome tail has a few uses. First, they circle a school of tasty fish, using the tail to enclose and herd them. The tail is also used like a whip, striking and stunning their prey before they feed. They are the Indiana Jones of sharks.

The thresher shark is a shy creature, and there is only one documented thresher shark attack on a human, and that shark was provoked.

Threshers were also a favorite shark of Aristotle:

In his encyclopedic Historia Animalia, Aristotle wrote of a clever trick allegedly demonstrated by hooked Threshers, in which the shark swims up the fisherman’s line and bites it asunder, thereby freeing itself. Aristotle also wrote of Threshers’ supposed habit of protecting their young by swallowing them (a behavior he also attributed to catsharks and electric rays). No wonder that the Thresher Shark was known to the ancient Greeks as alopex, which means “fox”, in reference to its supposed cleverness. Neither of these improbable behaviors is supported by scientific evidence, but Aristotle’s formidable reputation made him an unquestionable authority for nearly 2 000 years. Remarkably, neither of the fantastic scenarios reported by Aristotle has anything to do with the Thresher Shark’s unusually long tail.

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