Speedy sharkskin

Tiny, toothlike bumps boost sharks’ swiftness

By Jennifer Cutraro, 14:00 PM March 7, 2012

Slicing through the water at speeds exceeding 45 miles per hour (72 kph), the shortfin mako shark is one of the fastest fish in the sea. A team of Harvard biologists has made a surprising discovery about what feature gives the mako, like all other sharks, its incredible swiftness — its sandpapery skin.

It may look sleek and smooth, but a shark’s skin is actually rough. That’s because sharkskin is covered with millions of microscopic, toothlike bumps called denticles.  Scientists have long...

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