And God Created ...

The Cookie Cutter Shark

David Everson

In the oceans are many marvelous creatures fashioned by the Almighty that continue to fascinate and astonish. The cookie cutter shark is indeed one of these most unusual creatures that leaves us with a sense of wonder and awe at the majesty of the Creator. Let us look at what is known about this predator of the world's oceans.

Among the sharks of the world are some vastly unusual species, both large and small. The cookie cutter shark is one of the smaller (15-20 inches) types that lives in the deep oceans of the world. In addition, while many species of sharks are sleek, swift, and powerful swimmers, this shark is a very weak and slow swimmer, but that has not limited the success of this creature because God has designed it with other special tricks and talents.

Like many deep ocean organisms, this small shark has cells that carry on bioluminescence, producing light like the firefly. These light producing cells are only found on the bottom of the shark's body which when they give off their glow would hide the shark from predators by blending into the light filtering down from the surface waters. This is useful against predators that might try to attack from underneath. These cells cover all parts of the cookie cutter's belly except for one small area. This area is just below the mouth and is totally lacking in any bioluminescent cells. This particular ability is not really unique for deep sea creatures as many have it, and it is suspected that most if not all deep sea creatures have some type of bioluminescence of hiding. However, the cookie cutter shark's light pattern is different from that of most organisms. The blank spot on the bottom of its body is unique and is called counter illumination. While other organisms do have this, most do not have the ability carried to such an extreme extent. Some will have just small patches of bioluminescent cells but not mostly covering the organism. What would be the reason for this total cover except for one small spot?

The reason for this arrangement seems to be related to the way God designed the cookie cutter shark to get its food. This shark seems to let its food come to it, and is that food big! Big and fast sea creatures like tuna, swordfish, and porpoises are its prey. How can a 15-inch shark eat a 500-pound swordfish? Well, the design here is not to eat the whole thing but just take bites out, and therein lies the beauty of this shark. Using the dark patch that from below might appear to be a slow moving fish, the large predators swim up, and, instead of getting to eat, they end up having a melon-ball sized and shaped chunk of flesh taken out. This is done by the cookie cutter shark with its unusual mouth parts. The jaws of all sharks open very wide and extend out of their mouths in order to tear off flesh, but the cookie cutter's jaws come out farther and do produce a circular, melon-ball shaped wound. The swift movement of the prey aids this. As the tuna swooshes upward in an attempted attack, the shark's teeth sink in and slide around in a curving scoop, very similar to the action of a "melon-baller." While this wound is not lethal, a whole school of cookie cutter sharks (which is how they travel) would make several rather annoying injuries to the prey.

So, the cookie cutter shark uses its bioluminescent cells to hide from, as well as to attract, its food. God has given the cookie cutter shark amazing abilities, and it stands as evidence of the Intelligent Designer that God is. Rt. 1 Box 116A, Belington, WV 26250.


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