Sharks shrug shoulders to swallow ‘reluctant’ meal
Paris, France - How does a bamboo shark, which uses suction to latch on to its prey, swallow a wriggling, reluctant meal? With a shrug of its shoulders, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
That rates as Big News for specialists, who have long assumed that U-shaped cartilage between the head and body existed only to control the predator’s front-most fins.
Not so, according to lead author Ariel Camp, a postdoctoral researcher at Brown University in the US state of Rhode Island. ‘Sharks don’t have tongues to move food through their mouths’, she said in a statement. ‘They have this long pharynx, and they have to keep food moving down it’.
Bamboo sharks, which grow to about a metre and are harmless to humans, favour a diet of small fish and invertebrates such as crabs. They create suction to grasp their prey and a fraction of a second after the mouth closed around a bit of squid or herring, the ‘shoulder girdle’ quickly rotated backward - from head to tail, the study showed.