Shark Teeth

Shark Teeth

Students explore shark diversity by matching drawings of shark teeth to drawings of the sharks themselves.


3 - 5


Biology, Oceanography

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This resource is also available in Spanish.

Sharks are among the most ancient species on Earth. Today there are more than 350 different species. Nearly all sharks are meat-eaters and eat a variety of fish and other sea creatures. A shark’s eating habits determine the shape and size of its teeth.

Extending the Learning

Have students debate the proposition: Sharks should be protected. Assign students roles such as scientist, environmentalist, doctor, restaurateur, fisherman, and beachgoer. Have students research the issue looking for information that supports their positions. Ask them to prepare their arguments and then debate the issue.

A great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) swims through the ocean water.

1. Build background.
Ask students to brainstorm a list of stereotypes about people’s perceptions of sharks. Write them on the board. Show students the photos of different types of sharks. Then discuss the different kinds of foods that sharks eat, such as turtles, fish, and microscopic organisms. Ask students to describe how sharks’ anatomy fits the prey they hunt.

2. Watch the video segments.
Watch the Crittercam video segments on the white shark and tiger shark. Ask students to notice the different kinds of foods the two sharks eat.

3. Distribute the worksheet.
Give each student a copy of the worksheet Sharks: Which Tooth Belongs to Which Shark? Have students look carefully at the drawings of four kinds of shark teeth and four drawings of sharks accompanied by the foods they eat. Ask students to examine the teeth for features that help capture and eat a particular kind of food, and then match each tooth to a shark and its food.

4. Review the answers.
Discuss the answers. (Tiger Shark, B; Lemon Shark, C; Great White Shark, A; Whale Shark, D) Ask: What tools can you compare each tooth to? For example, tooth A resembles a saw. Tooth C resembles a spear. Have students brainstorm other tools the teeth remind them of.

Lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) on patrol below surface at dusk in Bahamas at a shark sanctuary.
Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • describe the different kinds of foods that sharks eat
  • identify how the features of shark teeth help sharks capture and eat particular kinds of food
Teaching Approach
  • Learning-for-use
Teaching Methods
  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning
  • Visual instruction
Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

  • Critical Thinking Skills
    • Analyzing
    • Understanding

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Science Education Standards
A tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) swims in waters off the coast of South Africa.

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide
  • Pencils
  • Pens
Required Technology
  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector, Speakers
  • Plug-Ins: Flash
Physical Space
  • Classroom
  • Large-group instruction
Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Kristen Dell, National Geographic Society
Sharon L. Barry
Sheryl Hasegawa, National Geographic Society
Kim Hulse, National Geographic Society
Christina Riska Simmons
Educator Reviewer
Mary C. Cahill, Middle School Science Coordinator, The Potomac School, McLean, VA
National Geographic Program

Special thanks to the National Geographic Museum

Last Updated

March 8, 2024

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