Sharks are amazingly well adapted to their ever-changing marine environment. They possess several adaptations that help them swim without expending too much energy, and enable them to maneuver quickly and with agility. The bodies of all sharks taper to points at both the snout and the tail, increasing their hydrodynamics as they chase after prey. They also have a type of scale known as a denticle, which controls the flow of water over the skin’s surface leading to a reduction in drag. Most importantly, sharks are known for possessing a skeleton entirely composed of cartilage. Unlike most vertebrates, they do not rely on their internal skeleton to provide them with firm sites for muscle attachment. Instead sharks have a thick skin composed of a meshwork of strong and flexible collagen fibers. This woven layer acts as a receptacle for swimming muscles to attach directly to their armor-like skin. From a mechanical perspective, having muscle directly attached to an external skeleton is a very efficient arrangement, resulting in very little waste of muscular energy. In general, sharks use low energy and mechanically complicated movement, which allows for continued existence as an apex predator.
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