Dr. McShark’s easy 2-step program to befriending even the sourest lemon shark

Lemonshark and posse

Lemonshark and posse

What’s worse than a shark? That’s right, a bunch of sharks. Biologists from the University of Leeds went swimming with the lemon sharks of the wet-and-blue off of Bimini, Bahamas to find out how the killing machines of the sea make friends.  The first thing a social shark looks for, according to Discovery News, is species:

When given a choice, a lemon shark will therefore hang out with other lemon sharks, according to the study, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Animal Behavior.

[…]

The other shared attribute among probable shark “friends” is size, although young sharks aged 0-1 years weren’t so picky. The researchers focused on 42 juveniles aged 2-3 years old and determined they preferred to chill with similar sized sharks.

The biologists also discovered juvenile sharks would rather be in the company of other similarly sized lemon sharks than to be alone. Perhaps mini gangs help the sharks with foraging, warding off predators, dealing with bigger bullies of their own species, or with some other aspect of survival.

What’s worse than a bunch of sharks? A bunch of smart sharks. The kind of social behaviour exhibited by the lemon sharks is tied to the evolution of cooperation and social learning. And sharks have a relative brain mass comparable to that of mammals and birds. So sharks aren’t mindless killing machines, they’re brainy killing machines.

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