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, 106 (1), 19-28

Maneuvering in Juvenile Carcharhinid and Sphyrnid Sharks: The Role of the Hammerhead Shark Cephalofoil

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Maneuvering in Juvenile Carcharhinid and Sphyrnid Sharks: The Role of the Hammerhead Shark Cephalofoil

Stephen M Kajiura et al. Zoology (Jena).

Abstract

The peculiar head morphology of hammerhead sharks has spawned a variety of untested functional hypotheses. One of the most intuitively appealing ideas is that the anterior foil acts, as in canard-winged aircraft, to increase maneuverability. We tested this hypothesis by determining whether juveniles of two hammerhead species (Sphyrna tiburo and S. lewini) turn more sharply, more often, and with greater velocity than a juvenile carcharhinid shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus). Although the hammerheads were more maneuverable, further investigation revealed that they do not roll their body during turns, suggesting that the cephalofoil does not act as a steering wing. We also show that hammerhead sharks demonstrate greater lateral flexure in a turn than carcharhinids, and that this flexibility may be due to cross sectional shape rather than number of vertebrae.

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