As any self-respecting fan of animal attacks knows, next week is Discovery Channel's SHARK WEEK (say it in caps). So we've got breaking news from the world of shark social networking: Two proven ways to make friends with sharks.
Discovery's Jennifer Viegas reports in her blog Born Animal that a group of researchers from Leeds studied the friending practices of 42 juvenile lemon sharks, 2-3 years old, off the coast of the Bahamas. Basically these sharks are the equivalent of human teens and early-twenties, prime ages for Facebookery. So what does it take to have a giant friend list among lemon sharks?
First of all, lemon sharks tend to like other lemon sharks, though they will occasionally hang out with a few select other species. So if you want more lemon shark friends, be sure to send a note with your friend request explaining how close you are to being a lemon shark.
And second of all, most lemon sharks prefer friends who are close to them in size.
The biologists also discovered juvenile sharks would rather be in the company of other similarly sized lemon sharks than to be alone. Perhaps mini gangs help the sharks with foraging, warding off predators, dealing with bigger bullies of their own species, or with some other aspect of survival.
And the fact that these sharks are so social opens the doors to additional possibilities about their behavior.
"This type of associative pattern has been linked to the evolution of cooperation and may also have implications for the flow of information through a population and social learning," the researchers note, adding that the "sharks' relative brain mass overlaps with that of mammals and birds."
You heard it here first. The new growth market for your social software is sharks. I'm not sure why the scientists didn't ask the sharks about superpokes and applications for comparing favorite human limbs to chew on.
Image by Doug Perrine.