Paper to Predator: Making your own shark with sandpaper!


December 18, 2014
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Have you ever touched a living shark? Sounds like a scary proposition, but you can do so safely at Shark! The Touch Tank Experience. 

A view of a shark’s skin through a microscope.

Before you reach into that tank observe shark’s skin (above). How might it feel to the touch? A shark’s skin is actually very comparable to… sandpaper! That’s right folks, the tiny dermal denticles that cover a shark actually have a texture very similar to sandpaper.

Want to learn more about the texture of shark skin? Watch this video from Myth Busters:

Now here’s your chance to make your very own “shark skin” in the craft below! And don’t forget to come to Shark! The Touch Tank Experience so you can compare your shark to the real thing!

How To Make Your Own Sandpaper Shark!

Ed How To - Shark 1

Supplies: 

Fine grain sandpaper
Pencil
Glue
Scissors
White paper
Crayons

Draw a shark on the back of a piece of sandpaper and cut it out with scissors. Next, color the top portion of the shark grey and the bottom white using crayons. Use a black crayon to add gills, eyes, and other details. This kind of coloration, called countershading, is a form of camouflage that allows fish to blend with the environment; it is typically seen on fish living in the open ocean. The dark top blends well with the ocean depths when viewed from above, while the white belly blends with the sky when viewed from below. 

Now, use crayons to create an environment for the sandpaper shark. When finished, glue the shark onto the paper. When the glue has dried, run a finger over the shark.

Ed How To - Shark 2How does it feel? It feels rough, of course. If a shark is rubbed from tail to head, it would feel a lot like sandpaper due to special scales called dermal denticles. Derma means skin and denticles means teeth; skin teeth, yikes! Under a microscope each scale looks like a tiny tooth.

Authored By Kat Havens

As a native Houstonian Kathleen has watched HMNS change and grow over the decades. Her life-long love of cultures and all things rocks and minerals brought her back to HMNS after several years away. Well versed in almost all things museum as an employee and volunteer her goal is to share her love of learning with anyone who will stop long enough to listen (or read).



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