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Whale sharks have armor on their eyes

  • Jeremy Gay
  • Jul 17, 2020

A research article in the scientific journal PLOS ONE found that Whale sharks have jagged, teeth-like scales on their eyes for extra protection when cruising through the oceans.

Known as dermal denticles, Sharks have them all over their bodies to reduce drag (instead of normal fish scales,) but this was the first time that an adapted version had been found on shark eyes. 

Most sharks can either roll their eyes back into their heads to protect them when feeding or have special eyelids called nictitating membranes. Whale sharks can also roll and retract their eyes, but the addition of extra protection via dermal denticles was a completely new finding, and maybe unique to that species. 

Whale sharks are the largest fish on the planet and can reach lengths up to 60 feet. Their eyes are on the front corners of their square-shaped heads, so it’s believed the armor plating offers further protection when swimming through debris.

The study also highlighted a greater reliance on vision following the previous, contradictory notions of poor vision in the species. 

To read the full scientific paper click here

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