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Re: Carcharias [Was Re: Oviraptorids as Parrots?}

At 10:15 PM 7/02/2006, Colin McHenry wrote:
dannj@alphalink.com.au wrote:
On Mon, 06 Feb 2006 19:48:01 -0600, Tim Williams wrote
A shark species commonly known as the 'sand tiger' (_Carcharias taurus_) has slender teeth, very much unlike the broad teeth of the tiger shark (_Galeocerdo cuvier_).

We call them 'grey nurse' sharks here in Oz. Being mostly fish eaters, they have mouths full of long slender teeth that are good for catching fish, but extremely inefficient at penetrating testudinate shells. :)

The grey nurse and tiger shark are from two different orders....

Sand tigers are one of the most docile of shark species...

I'd have thought so too - except that 'sand tigers' are apparently in the top ten species of sharks as far as attacks on humans go (there've even been a surprising number of fatalities).
The placement of sand tigers/ grey nurses/ ragged tooths in the top ten list of 'maneaters' may be a little dated. Every recent piece of info I've found on them stresses their inoffensive nature as far as humans goes. I read once that many attacks previously blamed on _Carcharias taurus_ are now thought to have been the responsibility of large carcharhinids such as the bull shark (_Carcharhinus leucus_) and the bronze shark (_Carcharhinus brachyurus_), or even Great Whites. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there do not seem to be any confirmed reports of
attacks by grey nurse sharks on humans in the wild. They are certainly popular as a large shark for aquaria...

Well I don't know much about sharks myself, I work in a lab full of shark biologists, one is working on the conservation of the grey nurse
popoulations of the east coast of Queensland, so this is a point raised in the lab a lot. Any mention of grey nurses as man eaters is treated as joke, its nearly always other species that are involved in shark attacks - you need to poke them in the eye to get them to bite you (so they tell me), and its not that bad as far as a shark bite goes. Despite this the media always place them in their list of suspects, which goes back to old incorrect ideas that probably started mid 20th century based on how gruesome they look with all those pointy teeth sticking out (despite not being very effective on humans). Interestingly, despite their high public profile (probably due to their tendency to hang out at the same few rocks here and there and therefore easily respotted) they're critically endangered here - probably only 500 individuals on the east coast on Australia (and that's a big coastline!).

Point in case: we had a fatal shark attack across the bay here near Brisbane recently, British press reported a pack of 10 grey nurse were seen in the area - and other media reports suggested this species too. Most likely was a large tiger shark or one or more bull sharks, as these actually had been seen in the area and are common.


Chris Glen
PhD candidate,
School of Biomedical Science
Anatomy and Developmental Biology Dept.,
University of Queensland
Room: 418
Phone: (07) 3365 2720
Mob: 0408 986 301
Email: c.glen@.uq.edu.au
\_ \ / ,\
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"" ""
Returning home after a hard day of
dodging dinosaur feet and droppings,
only to find their burrow trampled,
one Late Mesozoic mammal says to an other :
"Hey, a falling star, make a wish."