Before today, if you asked me what a shark egg looked like, I would've wondered if sharks even lay eggs. I know fish lay eggs, but sharks? It's something I've never even thought about. So, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a recent TikTok video where a woman was holding a corkscrew shark egg and telling viewers all about her cool discovery on the beach.
So, what does a shark egg look like? Let's take a closer look.
What does a shark egg look like?
TikToker @California.Shelling stunned the world when she discovered a shark egg on the beach in California. As she held up the horn shark corkscrew egg casing, she explained what it looked and felt like. "It looks like glass, I know, but no, they're actually soft and the case itself is pretty squishy."
As she held the egg casing and twirled it around, she attempted to get a close enough look on camera so viewers could see through it.
"OK, so actually able to get a little bit of sun, and you can see the little embryo in there," she excitedly exclaimed. If you look closely, you can definitely see the embryo swimming up the corkscrew casing, and it's quite fascinating.
"Usually, what the mom will try to do is wedge it into some rocks, so hopefully it stays in place," she said, "but it should be hatched farther out in the water where it has a better chance of survival."
The video, which had over 35.9 million views as of publication on June 5, 2023, left viewers in shock. One commented: "I didn't believe this was an egg until you showed the embryo, omg."
And another posted, "I never asked myself how a shark egg looks like. Wow, I'm definitely doing more research. Interesting!"
Do sharks really lay eggs?
The TikTok video shocked the internet, with many claiming they had no idea some sharks laid eggs. Sharks who lay eggs are oviparous. Specifically, sharks lay egg cases, which are known as "mermaid's purses." These contain fertilized eggs, and provide protection and nourishment for the developing embryo.
Some of the species that lay eggs include the horn shark, catshark, and some dogfish.
Other sharks are known as viviparity, and that's where the baby grows inside the mother, and they're born live. The young sharks, or pups, are fully formed at birth. Some live-bearing sharks include the great white shark, the hammerhead shark, and the tiger shark.
And lastly, the third type of shark is known as ovoviviparous sharks and with this species, the eggs develop and hatch inside the female's body. And while the young are born live, they receive their nutrition from a yolk sac rather than directly from the mother. A gray reef shark is a good example.
Do all sharks lay eggs?
All that being said, not all sharks lay eggs. According to MarAlliance, only about 40 percent of shark species lay eggs, meaning around 60 percent of shark species do not lay eggs.
For that 60 percent of shark species, instead of laying eggs, they give birth to live young after growing them inside their bodies, just like humans do.
This article, originally published on June 5, 2023, has been updated.