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What A Shark! This Shark Has An Appetite For Grass

Bonnethead shark eats grass
Sharks as we all know eat lots of things. Great whites famously hunt large mammals, basking sharks scoop up tiny plankton and some sharks even eat each other! But the thing they tend to have in common is that they're carnivores.

Their teeth, their organs, their senses – all are beautifully adapted for catching and eating tasty animal prey. And then there's the bonnethead shark. The shark that eats grass.

Bonnetheads; close relatives of hammerheads are pretty weird as sharks go. Inside their uniquely shovel-shaped heads are two different types of teeth: the blade-like teeth in the front are standard slicers, but farther back, they have unusual flat, molar-type teeth for crushing up hard-shelled food like crabs and shrimp (some other crustacean-chomping sharks have this feature as well). Even their stomachs are a strange shape, straight instead of bent like most sharks.

But they also eat grass! The bonnethead shark is the only known shark species to consume copious amounts of seagrass (up to 60% of their diet)," said Samantha Leigh of the University of California, Irvine. Leigh's shark research, which is funded through National Geographic, focuses on digestion.

But are the bonnetheads grabbing grass on purpose, or are they getting an accidental "seaweed wrap" around their sushi? Leigh presumes the latter:

"I suspect that the sharks are incidentally consuming the seagrass while foraging on other prey items that live in the seagrass beds (crabs, shrimp, small fish, etc.)."

If this is true, then it's even more surprising to learn that unlike typical carnivores, the bonnetheads are actually capable of partially digesting the plants!

More at: Earthtouchnews

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