There is a unique fascination about sharks that seems to grip both young and old alike. Whether its their cold, bloodless eyes, or their ability to sense prey from the slightest drop of blood, there is something about a sharks ruthless ability to hunt down and attack its prey that captures the imagination.
While the smaller sharks can do an excellent job of looking mean, its the larger ones that you need to keep an eye one - especially if they rip you in half with a single, playful bite!
Of course the bigger the shark, the more scary it is - just look at the film 'Jaws', but what is the world's biggest shark?
Well, if you are looking at an all time record you will need to go back in time 28 to 1.5 million years ago. There - during the the Cenozoic Era - you could meet the largest ever predatory shark, the exceptionally dangerous Carcharodon megalodon.
This utter beast of a shark is estimated to be around 16 m (53 ft) long, with a mouth approximately 2 m (6 ft) wide.
'Great White' shark, with the biggest individuals known to have approached or exceeded 6 metres (20 ft) in length, and 2,268 kilograms (5,000 lb) in weight
It is one of the primary predators of marine mammals as well as a variety of other marine creatures including fish, pinnipeds, and seabirds. It is now the only known surviving species of its genus, Carcharodon, and is ranked first in a list of number of recorded attacks on humans.
However, the largest shark in the world alive today is the the Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus. Unlike either if the first two sharks mentioned, this giant species is a slow-moving filter feeding shark.
The largest confirmed individual was 12.65 metres (41.50 ft) in length and the heaviest weighed more than 36 tonnes (79,000 lb), however there have been unconfirmed claims reports of considerably larger whale sharks.
The whale shark is found in tropical and warm oceans, lives in the open sea with a lifespan of about 70 years.
Originating from about 60 million years ago, they feed mainly, though not exclusively, on plankton, microscopic plants and animals. However, the BBC program Planet Earth filmed a whale shark feeding on a school of small fish.
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