An extremely versatile question. Can be used to kick off furious debate amongst pretentious philosophy students (pretty much a tautology, i know), who think it is a genuine poser worth considering rather than a clever way of exposing how pretentious they are. Also makes for great drunken pub debate when everyone's pissed enough to get angry with each other for their opposing views.
Yet the shark/lion dilemma represents so much more than this. I for one, would recommend it as an icebreaker in any conversation, and encourage you all to try it out. When considered, paradoxically, as a genuine question, the possibilities for exciting debate are enormous, as are the vagaries of the fight itself. Generally speaking, the question of whether the shark can move in traditional swimming patterns, the weaponry employed by each, and whether the atmosphere of the moon is conducive to their breathing, are moot. Although me mate Dave swears blind that it's obviously the lion.
I feel it is my need to brazenly defy the Everything tradition of sticking to factual information and to brazenly embrace the Everything tradition of totally avoiding the facts, rather to post on entirely silly topics. Let us proceed.


One should not rule out the possibility that on the moon, a shark's natural swimming motions might not aid it considerably. This is allowed as a "given" in this debate, but it undermines the nature of the debate itself: to weigh and compare the worth of each species's innate killing technique and prowess. Without being confined to its swimming motions, a very large shark will easily destroy a very large lion. Thus, we cannot rule out this section of the debate with a "given" without defeating the debate entirely in favour of the shark.

Consider this: While there is obviously no viscous, water-like medium by which the shark can propel itself, the flopping motions made by any landed fish would be enough to propel a shark over a rather radical distance on the moon, where it would not be propelled on earth, due to lessened gravity.

We do, as you suggested, have to assume that there is some sort of way for each party to breathe as they would in their natural environment, the lion in a normal atmosphere, the shark underwater. Starting from the beginning, you have a number of serious basic principles to lie on the table:
  • A lion would kill a shark on land. This is because:
  • A shark would kill a lion underwater. This is because:
    • A shark can breathe underwater. A lion cannot.
    • A shark can swim underwater. A lion cannot.


These are both indebatable, I believe. We rule out all considerations of breathing, of course, for the sake of the debate, thereby ridding each of one advantage over the other. Consider that while a lion can swim in some way or another, it cannot swim underwater, meaning that it must "doggy paddle". This makes its principal attack quite useless, leaving it only to vaguely swipe about with its paws as it swims, a sitting duck, if you will, to the deft monster of the deep below.

So, we remove each being from its natural habitat, and place it in a position in which it is supposedly unfamiliar--the moon. Naturally, it would seem that a lion would be far better adapted to this terrain, being that it is earth-like in most respects, albeit with low gravity. The shark, of course, would be totally out of place. Given that neither animal was raised in this environment, the lion would certainly adapt more quickly and slay the shark with ease.

However, this may be a conclusion without base. After all, are we not to say that this shark and this lion were both bred on the moon? This would be a natural conclusion, actually, if they were to be found on the moon at all. Perhaps this is some sort of arranged space-battle between wily space-gamblers. Considering this, I think it very possible that the shark would have already adapted to the technique of flopping against the ground for propulsion, or perhaps using the soft earth as a medium for the swishing back-and-forth of dust for a snake-like momentum. The shark, being the naturally superior warrior, would then be perfectly able to maneuver in such a way that the lion would have no luck in finding its weaker side to exploit.

Clearly, it seems, the shark would be at an advantage, regardless of its motility.

Perhaps, one day, we will know for sure. I propose, as part of the eternal time-capsule that is the internet, that this be taken as a sport in such a time that it is possible to achieve its technological means. Surely, in the lawless, barbarous wasteland that will be the moon, money-mad space-profiteers will find a way and place for such adventures to be considered. My thanks to you all.

I should add that an additional debate should occur which takes into account what sorts of weapons each might excel with. I think a shark could do pretty fair damage with a really sharp knife.

Q. Who would win in a fight between a shark and a lion on the moon?

A. The lion.

The lion has more natural weapons than the shark, and would most likely be more adept at navigating the terrain. The moon is much more like the lions natural habitat than the sharks. Lions can walk on moon. In a fight between a lion and a shark that had lived their whole lives on Earth would be a stalemate. They would both die as lack of oxygen caused basic cell function to cease, and the heart and brain stopped working. Outfit each creature with a sort of breathing apparatus however, and the fight becomes loads more interesting.

The reduced gravity of the moon may lend itself to the shark’s natural swimming patterns, whilst a lion may be put off by the change. The shark would be put at a disadvantage while it is charging. It must charge headfirst and therefore leave its head vulnerable, while a charging lion would jump arms extended and paws foreword. This sort of approach allows the lion to easier pin the shark and expose its soft underbelly. The lion also has a psychological advantage. It can bellow out a menacing roar that the shark just can't top, the roar leaves the shark quaking in its little fins. Now allow me to broach the topic of a shark and lion naturally adapted to moon combat. The shark in all its lithe shark grace, would slice through the vacuum of space like a hot knife through butter. Its speed would be unparalleled. The lion would have mastered jumps dodging and all manner of agile techniques to stay out of danger.

Since the only conceivable reason for a shark and a lion to be born and bred on the moon is for their lives to culminate in an epic deathmatch, both creatures would have intensely honed killer instinct. The Earth lion's sense of pride might stop it from killing the shark outright, but not the moon lion. Neither animal would feel a shred of remorse for taking the other's life. The melee would no doubt rail on for millennia until the Chinese send up their first manned lunar mission. The deadly duo would take care of the crew mercilessly, and at that moment they would both realize the full extent of the truly awesome power they possess. They would set their sights on Earth and begin an epic conquest of the planet using their superior fighting skills to utterly annihilate all life on the planet. They would then bask in the glory of a land all their own. The shark and lion would train on the stronger gravity of Earth and become even more destructive than they were previously. The final battle would peak in a maneuver so glorious in its might that the shark doesn't even die of its wounds. It dies from the total humbling experience of seeing the lion so masterfully destroy its foe the shark. And that's why the lion beat the shark.

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