Sharks are a very ancient fish on Earth. They date back to more than 420 million years ago. They have now evolved into 440 known species and can range in size from 6.7 inches (17cm) to 39 feet (12 meters). They generally are found in saltwater environments with the exception of a few species. They also tend to have several sets of replaceable teeth.

Sharks have always fascinated and frightened people because of their extraordinary skills as top predators of the food chain in the oceans. They were originally referred to as "sea dogs" by early sailors until around the 16th century when they were referred to as sharks. The origin of the name is debatable either coming from the Mayan word "xok", pronounced 'shok' or possibly the German word "Schorck" a variant of Schurke meaning villain or scoundrel because of it's predatory behavior.

But the truth about sharks today is that their very survival is under serious threat from fishing and other human activities. Contrary to popular belief, there are only a few sharks species that are dangerous to humans out of the total of 440 species . The sharks that are the large, powerful predators that may sometimes attack and kill people are the great white, the tiger, the oceanic whitetip and the bull sharks.

But inspite of being responsible for some attacks on humans they all have been filmed without using a protective cage. In fact during a 5 year span between 2001 and 2006, the average number of fatalities worldwide per year from unprovoked shark attacks was only 4.3. Their reputation was so undeserved that after the showing of the Jaws films, both Jaws author Peter Benchley, and Jaws director Stephen Spielberg attempted to dispel the image of sharks as man-eating monsters. The video below is an wonderful example of how most shark species are not a threat to humans.

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