Normally mammals have fur which helps them in maintaining body temperature. Therefore, asking if sharks do have fur is a question that usually comes up when you think sharks are mammals. Of course, sharks aren’t mammals, but do they have furs?
No! Sharks don’t have fur. Sharks’ bodies are covered with tough scales. The scales enabled them to swim quietly and efficiently.
The fur is a characteristic of mammals. We will have an overview of the sharks’ skin and tough scales to have the knowledge of why sharks don’t have furs or hairs on their body.
Let us first understand what fur is. Thus:
What Is Fur?
The fur is a hairy coat of mostly various mammal species, especially when fine, soft, and thick and covers or coats mammals. It is specially for warmth and sometimes decorative and other reasons.
The fur of animals is of many uses to the animals: protection, waterproofing, camouflaging, and sensory purposes. The primary usage of fur in animals is thermoregulation; this is the process that allows the body to maintain its core internal temperature.
Fur may consist of three layers each with a different type of hair:
Down hair: Also known as undercut, undercoat, or ground hair. This is the inner layer of the fur, composed of curly hairs. Its main function is to maintain the body’s thermoregulation.
Guard hair: It is the outer layer of the fur. Guard hairs are longer and coarse. They also have a straight shaft that protrudes through the layer of softened hair. Guard hair helps repel water to protect undercoat or skin in wet or aquatic habitat. Then they block sunlight to maintain skin from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
Awn hair: Also known as hybrid hair. It bridges the gap between the down hair and the awn hair. It performs the function of both down hair (thermoregulation) and guard hair (protecting the skin from wet and sunlight).
Types of Furs
- Fox (Vulpes vulpes, also Alopex lagopus)
- Chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera)
- Fisher (Martes pennanti)
- Mink (Neovison vison)
- Sable (Martes zibellina)
- Karakul (Ovis aries)
- Lynx (Felis lynx)
- Nutria (Myocastor coypus)
- Ermine (Mustela erminea)
- Finn Raccoon (Nyctereutes procyonoides)
Why Are Sharks Often Considered Mammal and Likely to Have Fur?
It is quite common to mistake sharks mistake for mammals. This is because they are viviparous (they give birth to their young ones by birth). However, the way they give birth to their young ones does not qualify them to be called mammals.
Likening sharks to mammals because some sharks are viviparous (live birth) while some sharks are oviparous (egg-laying) would cause the misunderstanding that not all sharks Mammals. Or should we say those that give birth to their young ones are mammals and others are not?
But, considering the way sharks give birth to their young ones only does not qualify them to be called mammals. Mammals have other qualities such as being warm-blooded animals and having body hairs and furs that help to keep them warm. But, these do not apply to sharks.
As cold-blooded animals, sharks do not have furs or hairs. That is to say, they do not require the warmth of these furs.
Sharks have scales which covers its body and helps them in swimming and also helps to protect the body from any harm in the environment.
Do Sharks Have Hair?
It is normal to think that sharks can have some hairs on their skin, but this is not the case. Being an aquatic animal, there are certain distinctive features that will help it adapt well to water. This distinctive feature does not include hair.
The hair is not important to the sharks as it will not help them throughout their life in the ocean. Living in the water, sharks need features that will help them swim efficiently with ease.
So, sharks have scales, not hairs. They have tough scales covering their entire body. These scales help them to swim quietly without a problem. Sharks do not have hair because they are not mammals.
Do Sharks Have Some Hair or Fur When They Are Born Compared to Dolphins?
Sharks don’t have some hair or fur when they are born. Unlike sharks, Dolphins are warm-blooded animals. Just like mammals, they have hairs on their body.
Sharks are a species of fish, specifically belonging to the Chondrichthyes class of fish. The dolphins are part of the cetacean family and are considered a marine mammal. They have lungs and need to breathe air just like humans.
Sharks and dolphins are not what comes to mind when we think about hair or fur. Nevertheless, dolphins are born with hairs on their body and a certain species gets to keep their hair throughout their life. Most dolphins have their hair follicles on their face as some land mammals do.
The humpback whale has some visible hair follicle on their body. The bumps on the back of its head are called tubercles. The tubercles contain a single hair follicle with a single hair. If you have encountered the humpback whale in the oceans you might be able to see them for yourself.
The number of hairs that a whale has is small, ranging from 30 – 100 depending on the species. Toothed whales usually have hair on their snout before they are born and lose the hair completely just shortly after birth. There is no single clear theory on why Dolphins have hair.
Do Whale Sharks Have Hair or Fur?
Whale sharks do not have hair or fur, they have cartilage instead of bone just like other sharks. They are filter feeders and weigh as much as 50,000 pounds. There are reports of this shark species to exist in more than 100 countries, mainly in warm water. They are a threatened species and are in danger of extinction.
Whale sharks are a species of sharks and not a mammal. Therefore, they possess the qualities of a fish instead of a mammal. Most people may mistake this shark species as part of whales in the dolphins’ family such as the blue whale and baleen whale. However, they are sharks with qualities like other sharks.
Sharks do not have fur nor hair on any part of their body. Their placoid scales skin with tiny tooth-like structures are even reported to inflict wound on humans. This kind of skin gives no space for hair or fur to grow.