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Prehistoric Sharks

Book Review

Do you know a kid that cannot stop talking about dinosaurs? Splash into shark week with Sharks: A Mighty Bite-y History (Abrams Books for Young Readers), an illustrated picture book that presents a survey of prehistoric, as well as present day shark species. Beginning with Cladoselache, the first true shark who swam in Earth's waters well before the dinosaurs, readers move through time to the present day top predators who inspire awe and keep our world ocean healthy.

What we love about this book:

The Design

Any non-fiction fans out there? This is one of those books that's both beautiful, illustrated by Gordy Wright, and full of information thanks to author Miriam Forster's passion for careful research. It's oversized, the kind of book you can lay out on the floor at quiet time and explore the pages of; and clearly designed for the kid who likes atlases and encyclopedias of space, dinosaurs (obviously), the Amazon, reptiles, and the ocean.

Shark Toolbox Segments

From rigid dorsal fins and bodies supported by cartilage instead of bones, to dermal denticles instead of fish scales, sharks have some amazing features that distinguish them from bony fish (and whales and dolphins too). Throughout her book, Miriam highlights different attributes about sharks and gives interesting examples of how they are expressed in different species.

The Weird and Wonderful

Miriam takes us beyond the megladon. Okay, okay, we admit the megladon is impressive and makes a terrifying science fiction antagonist in movies, but there are so many wildly unique shark ancestors along the way, like Hybodus, an adaptable prehistoric shark genus that swam in the ocean for 200 million years, with fossil evidence from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods.

Ocean Literacy Principles:

Sharks: A Mighty Bite-y History expands on Ocean Literacy Principle 5, the ocean supports a diversity of life and ecosystems. Miriam writes about both the diversity of life and ecosystems from an evolutionary standpoint. Readers find within the pages that sharks, being highly evolved and a diverse family, have adapted to life in different and sometimes extreme ecosystems.

More on Ancient Sharks:

For more about ancient shark species only, The Australian Museum has an online exhibit that includes infographics about how shark teeth are fossilized and how we know what we know about prehistoric species.

For more about shark fossils and to try your hand at identifying and fossils you've found, check out The Florida Museum's page on fossil sharks.


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