It’s Shark Week, which means from July 23 to 29 on Discovery Channel there will be hoards of content about these top predators. There’s a lot to love about sharks, after all. They’re fascinating fish with extra-special senses, but not all sharks are alike. In fact, there are more than 500 species of sharks, ranging from smaller than the size of a human hand to as long as a house.
Here are 10 of the most extreme shark species to watch for this Shark Week:
1. Great White Shark
We’ve got to start with the species that stars in Jaws. Great white sharks (also known simply as white sharks) are extreme because they’re huge, they can be ferocious, and they’re one of the most powerful animals on Earth. Imagine an animal that’s 20 feet long, has hundreds of serrated teeth, and can smell live prey from a mile away (or more)—and now go change your pants. Thankfully, humans aren’t a preferred food source for great whites (or any shark). That doesn’t make this species any less extreme, though.
2. Great Hammerhead Shark
Hammerhead sharks are recognizable by their distinctively shaped heads. The great hammerhead tops them all with its elongated, hammer-like head and large size (up to 20 feet long and weighing up to 1,000 pounds). While scientists don’t know for sure why they have such wide-set eyes, one common theory is this adaptation gives them a wider range of vision and more surface area for their sensory organs, which help hammerheads find prey.
3. Basking Shark
The second-largest shark species, the basking shark, swims around with its huge mouth agape. It’s got tiny teeth, gill slits so long they almost encircle its head, and a conical snout (that’s also slightly comical). This shark may look intimidating, but it’s a filter feeder, which means it filters plankton out of the water for food.
4. Goblin Shark
Thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean, goblin sharks swim around looking not that extreme—until it’s time to catch their prey, that is. A goblin shark’s extendable jaws jut out at 10 feet per second to snatch a meal swimming nearby before snapping back into place. Their super-fast jaws make up for their leisurely swimming speed.
5. Whale Shark
The gentle whale shark is extreme because it’s the largest shark—and the largest fish—in the world, measuring up to 40 feet long. Whale sharks have distinct patterns that are like fingerprints and unique to each individual. Like basking sharks, whale sharks are filter feeders that survive by filtering tons of tiny zooplankton from seawater.
6. Dwarf Lantern Shark
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the dwarf lantern shark is the smallest known shark species, reaching 8 inches long at most. Dwarf lantern sharks have glowing bellies and fins, like many fellow creatures that live below where sunlight can reach in the ocean.
7. Greenland Shark
This cold-water species is extreme because it can live for half a century, and maybe even longer. Scientists have figured out they can carbon date the protein inside a Greenland shark’s eyes to determine its approximate age. In one example, scientists found a female Greenland shark that was 272-512 years old, and even at the younger end of that spectrum, it puts these sharks at the top of the list in terms of long-living vertebrates on Earth.
8. Frilled Shark
Possibly the fuel for myths about frightful sea serpents of the deep sea, frilled sharks have a long, eel-like body that can be up to 7 feet long, a mouth full of hooked teeth, and, perhaps their most famous trait, gills that look like decorative frills. These deep-sea sharks swallow prey whole, trapping their meal inside their mouths with those backward-facing teeth. To make it all even creepier, the frilled shark swims around with what appears to be a grin on its face.
9. Tassled Wobbegong Shark
If you haven’t heard of a wobbegong, you’re in good company. Wobbegongs are a group of carpet sharks that look extreme in their similarity to a shag carpet. Species like the tassled wobbegong are ambush predators. The shark blends into the seafloor and waits for prey to pass by, before opening its wide mouth and throat and suctioning food inside.
10. Megalodon Shark
If you thought the great white shark sounded terrifying, picture this: It’s several million years ago, and a 60-foot shark roams the sea, feasting on baleen and toothed whales, like ancestral versions of the sperm whale, because it can. The megalodon may be extinct today, but its legacy lives on in Shark Week and in films like the upcoming Meg 2: The Trench.