“George Lauder from Harvard University, USA, explains that the fish have long inspired human engineers, but more recently attention has focused on how the fish’s remarkable skin boosts swimming.” The Ridges called denticles that cover the shark helps it swim faster.The denticles not only increase speed, they also “improve thrust.” When sharks swim, the water goes through their furrows, reducing friction and ultimately helping them swim faster.
“The shark’s skin is so rough that contact with it can injure prey.” The coarse denticles point facing the tail so if you were to rub your hand down towards the tail it would feel smooth. Oppositely if you were to rub towards shark’s head it would feel very rough.
“Sharkskin is well adapted for moving through water at high speeds, so engineering a similar coating could be useful in making wind and water turbines run more efficiently. To do that, scientists need to understand exactly how denticles work.” A study at Harvard showed that denticles help the shark move 12% faster in comparison to a shark who does not have denticles!
Sharks, thought of as being outwardly violent, are inwardly violent too. Sharks are generally resistant to viruses because of molecules their body have, especially a molecule named squalamine, discovered in 1993 from dogfish sharks. This molecule kills human viruses and can fight, kill, and prevent bacteria and cancer as well. Squalamine can fight and treat a variety of cancers from the eye to the liver. Researchers believe this molecule can be a potential cure to HIV.
The way this molecule works relates to our current topic of study in AP Biology class. Squalamine sticks to cell membranes of various organs and blood vessels. By connecting with receptors on the cell, it prevents other proteins to be received by the receptor and enter the cell, proteins that allow viruses to survive.
This molecule is the reason sharks are so resilient towards various illnesses and can help humans become that way as well. It has been known that oils from their liver can be used as an anti-inflammatory and studies now show that one of their molecules can help cure liver diseases. Shark oil is used in a very popular, over the counter anti-inflammatory medication used for arthritis, Chondroitin, that contains shark cartilage. This discovery can help save millions of lives, but before you go and kill millions of sharks in the process, it might be a good idea to try to figure out a way to help humans and keep sharks safe, as well.
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