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   Class Chondrichthyes

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The Class Chondrichthyes (the "cartilaginous fish") contains over 700 species of sharks, skates and rays. Although mostly marine, a few species have secondarily invaded freshwater habitats. Of these animals, it is the sharks that have captured the greatest amount of public attention. Indeed, a number of aspects of their anatomy and physiology have contributed to their widespread success as some of the ocean's most formidable predators. Moveable upper and lower jaws studded with sharp, recurved teeth can open wide to firmly grasp prey, which can be located with a variety of sophisticated sense organs including those that detect chemical odors, water currents, bioelectric fields emitted by their prey and even the Earth's magnetic fields. Interestingly, the whale shark (which is the largest fish in the sea with a length that can reach 10 meters) feeds on some of the smallest prey (plankton) that is filtered from the water column with its gills!

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