20 Ways Sharks Can Help Humans

posted: 04/11/12
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20 Ways Sharks Can Help Humans

20. Build ships. Scales help to prevent algae and other things from sticking to sharks, a quality designers hope to impart to ships.

19. Get some sleep. Sharks can continue to swim while "sleeping." Researchers study their brains, which may lead to treatments for human sleep disorders.

18. Understand ourselves. Using neuronal activity-detecting devices, scientists have developed ways of reading shark thoughts and feelings.

17. Improve our senses. Sharks see in near darkness, smell from long distances and feel distant vibrations. Analysis of their senses may give us similar abilities.

16. Inspire our tools. Shark teeth, with their variety of different shapes, sizes and cutting surfaces may have inspired early human tools.

15. Cure infection and disease. Squalamine, a chemical extracted from dogfish, appears to kill bacterial microbes and removes potential tumor cells.

14. Clean our oceans. Many sharks are scavengers that consume dead and dying animals and plants. They help to rid the oceans of waste materials.

13. Entertain. Sharks draw a crowd in aquariums. While controversial, they have earned millions of dollars, some going to shark conservation.

12. Design cars. In 2005, Mercedes-Benz modeled a "bionic car" after fish, including sharks. It was one of the most aerodynamically efficient vehicles for its size.

11. Help us see. Optometric researchers are investigating the shark cornea, which may one day be used for human transplants.

10. Grow economy. Ecotourism, with sharks as an attraction, has improved local economies throughout the world, such as in the Philippines and Belize.

9. Learn more about fish. Analysis of sharks, particularly the dogfish, has taught many researchers and students about fish biology.

8. Navigate. Sharks have amazing electrical sensitivity. Research on shark electroreceptor organs may lead to better navigation in cars, planes and ships.

7. Cure heart disease. Shark blood contains special anticlotting compounds that scientists are studying for possible human heart disease applications.

6. Filter our water. Some sharks are filter feeders consuming large quantities of zooplankton, which may "clean" water and eliminate harmful algal blooms.

5. Design planes. Shark fins and hammerhead shark noses have inspired high-tech adaptations to airline wings and jet bodies.

4. Improve our immunity. Sharks have a highly developed immune system. They may lead to preventative treatments for some of our most deadly diseases.

3. Improve our immunity. Sharks have highly developed immune systems. They may lead to preventative treatments for some of our most deadly diseases.

2. Protect shellfish. Sharks consume skates and other predators of scallops, crabs and lobsters. When sharks decline, shellfish that humans eat disappear.

1. Reveal our origins. As the oldest living vertebrates, sharks may provide information on the origin and evolution of all vertebrate species, including humans.

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