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Sharks are a group of fish with a cartilaginous skeleton, five to seven gill slits on the sides of the head, and pectoral fins that are not fused to the head.
The earliest known sharks date back to more than 420 million years ago. Then, acanthodians were called “spiny sharks”. Since then, sharks have diversified into over 500 species. They range in size from the small dwarf lanternshark (Etmopterus perryi), a deep sea species of only 17 centimetres (6.7 in) in length, to the whale shark. The latter is the largest fish in the world. That’s because it reaches approximately 12 metres (40 ft) in length.
Sharks live in all seas, and are common to depths of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). They generally do not live in freshwater although there are a few known exceptions. These include the bull shark and the river shark. Sharks have a covering of dermal denticles that protects their skin from damage and parasites in addition to improving their fluid dynamics. Perhaps most famously, they have numerous sets of replaceable teeth.