Latin name: Sphyrna (genus name, has 8 subspecies)

Although most hammerheads are much smaller than the Great White Shark, the sphyrnate species are among the most feared of shark breeds, and one of the few known to attack humans. The shark has a normal body, but is easily distinguished from other sharks by the fleshy projections from the sides of its head, where its eyes and nostrils are located. The size ranges from the scalloped bonnethead (Sphyrna corona), which is between 60-70 cm long, to the fearsome Great Hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), which can reach a length of over 5 meters. Like all sharks, hammerheads give birth to live young.

Hammerhead sharks can be found in tropical waters all over the world, and are usually located close to the shore. They are migratory, and will swim to keep them selves in warm waters that are abundant with fish. The Great Hammerhead is also fond of stingrays, and it will actually use its "hammer" to pin the ray down so that it can take a bite.

Thanks to www.shark.ch for the info.

Its not exactly known what the function of the strangely shaped hammer head is. An interesting observation on two species of hammerhead shark, Sphyrna tiburo and Sphyrna zygaena, was made in 1977 by Thomson and Simanek in American Zoologist (vol 17, p 350).

S. tiburo has the larger head area and a smaller pectoral fin area, but the combined area of head and pectoral fins is virtually the same in the two species. That fact, in the opinion of the authors, confirms the importance of both the hammer and pectoral fins as planing surfaces. The "wings" that jut out on either side of the shark's head act to create the hammer shape act as hydrofoils, aiding the shark's movement and adding extra lift. This enables the shark to bank and make rapid vertical movements more quickly. An additional advantage is that the eyes of a hammerhead shark are at either end of these wings and this could enhance the shark's binocular vision, allowing it to gauge distance more accurately.

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