These Tiny Scales Make Sharks Incredibly Fast. Can They Help Us Build Better Planes?
The scales of shortfin makos, the fastest species of shark, could guide the design of aerial vehicles in the future.
With more than 400 million years of evolution behind them, sharks have adapted to move quickly through water. Shortfin makos are the fastest sharks in the ocean, clocking speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. Salmon sharks are the second speediest, at 50 miles per hour, and iconic great whites are third.
The skin of sharks is lined with denticles, or small, tooth-like scales. These denticles have been the subject of aerodynamic inquiry since they were first studied in the 1980s, but reviews have been mixed on whether they reduce drag or not. So, a team of evolutionary biologists and engineers at Harvard University investigated.
The researchers wanted to see how denticles on sharkskin made the