Hammerhead sharks have been a source of fascination for researchers for a long time, especially since the iconic head extensions, which are known as cephalofoils, can become quite long, measuring up to approximately 90 centimeters from eye to eye.
A team of researchers has elaborated on a new study that offers more information about the unusual trait and the way it influences hammerhead sharks during swimming. While some theories argued that the cephalofoil comes with certain disadvantages, the advantages are considerably greater.
The cephalofoil can help the sharks to take sharper maneuvers in water, but it also creates a lot of drag, forcing them to use a larger amount of force to be able to move through the water. However, once the hammerhead shark tilts its head, it is able to make swift descent or ascents.
During the steady, the team observed eight different species of hammerhead sharks, and the way in which the shape of their head can influence swimming. In the case of the winghead shark, which features the largest cephalofoils, the drag was up to 40 times higher in comparison to regular fish.
It is important to point out that the unusual shape of the head does come with some additional benefits. The generous space between the eyes, nostrils, and the presence of electroreceptors powered by the shape of the cephalofoil allows hammerhead sharks to find prey more easily. They can also use their head as a weapon and bludgeon targets to death.
As the study relied on computer models and simulations, there are some limitations that have to be taken into account. However, the work was well-received by the scientific community, with one researcher arguing that it can pave the way for future investigations related to hammerhead sharks.
The study has been published in a scientific journal.