What Eats People, Part 1: Mackerel Sharks

One of the first posts I ran on this blog was an attempt to document all the animals that prey on people. That was about 18 months ago, and in the meantime, I've been a busy little researcher, trying to track down cases and firm up the documentation. That's allowed me to add another group to my list and feel more confident about a couple of others. So, in pieces and as time permits, I'm presenting the revised list, with pictures.


What do I mean by preying on people? For purposes of this list, an animal has to kill the person. Scavenging doesn't count. Parasitism doesn't count either, even if it eventually kills the person. The animal has to inflict violence for the immediate purpose of eating the person. Since most animals won't tell you their intentions, I looked for evidence of predatory intent, including actual eating or an attempt at it.


Let's start with the sharks. There are more than 400 species of sharks. Most of them are harmless to people; some are dangerous in one way or another—for their bites, mostly, or their venomous spines. A few dozen have given people medically significant bites. Of these, only about ten are on record as killing people in what look like predatory attacks.


Three of these belong to a family called the mackerel sharks (Lamnidae):



The Great White Shark (AKA white pointer, white death; Carcharodon carcharias)


The Short-Fin Mako (Isurus oxyrinchus)

The Sandtiger (AKA gray nurse shark, sand shark; Carcharias taurus)

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