Friday, January 25, 2008

Shy shark chooses flatulence

Listening to: Goodbye by Sneaky Sound System

Fact* for the day

The sand tiger shark, Carcharias taurus,** is unique as a shark when it comes to regulating buoyancy. Instead of just having the high density lipid squalene***, this shark farts. It gulps then swallows air from the surface of the water. As necessary it then farts to control its position at a depth.

*Fact paraphrased from 'Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze' published by New Scientist, 2006, p53, Alexandra Osman, London UK
A fascinating book derived from the 'Last Word' page of New Scientist. It won me before I started reading it when I discovered it has a cute flick/flip book animation of a penguin down the right hand margin.
I had to laugh with delight! If you enjoy this part of New Scientist - especially if you do what I sometimes do and read it before I get to the end - if you have an enquiring mind and appreciate a scientific and sometimes humourous explanation for why things are, then you will enjoy this.

**Species corrected via cross referencing Shark Info / Dr. Erich K. Ritter.

***Edited 04/02/08 Also known as shark liver oil since that is what it is. I recently read that it has been used extensively in cosmetics including lipstick (eww!). Fortunately most cosmetic manuafacturers won't be doing this anymore.

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