Episode 281 – Winghead Shark: Wing and a Scare

“…and today we were talking about Captain America of the sea with similar headwear. But more on that later.”

Description of the Winghead Shark

  • Grey and white hammerhead shark.
  • The shark cuts a thin, torpedo-shaped silhouette with a large dorsal and caudal fin.
  • They have a pronounced hammer with a larger wingspan than your typical hammerhead.

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words Measure Up into ldtaxonomy at gmail dot com. We don’t have a new measure up intro.


  • 1.9 m (6.2 ft)
  • If degrees were measured in feet, how many winghead sharks would go into the heat of the sun’s corona (atmosphere)?
  • Hint: The sun’s surface is 10,340 degrees, about five times the temperature of lava. Of course, there is a big difference in heat between the surface of the sun and the sun’s atmosphere.
  • 322,581 sharks. The sun’s atmosphere is 2 million degrees, about 200 times hotter than the surface. This is a huge mystery. One explanation is the frequent occurrence of nanoflares, which are small solar flares that are about one billionth the power of a full solar flare but still release the energy of a hydrogen bomb. These nanoflares belch heat into the sun’s atmosphere. 

Cephalofoil Wingspan

  • 0.9 meters (3 feet)
  • How many cephalofoil lengths go into the length of The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, also called Imola? 
  • Hint: Imola is an Italian motorway in the city of Imola, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. This week’s (May 21, 2023) scheduled grand prix was canceled because the region is experiencing catastrophic flooding. 
  • 5,368 cephalofoil. The track is 4.909 km (3.050 mi). 

Fast Facts about the Winghead Shark

Winghead sharks are found in shallow coastal waters throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Their diet consists of small bony fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods. 

A placenta connects the developing young to their mother, which keeps them alive to term. Winghead sharks are viviparous like the rest of their family. 

Females have a functional ovary and two functional uteri.

When the shark is pregnant with multiple baby sharks, her uterus has separate compartments for each baby.

Sharks near Mumbai mate during the monsoon season between July and August. Males usually bite the females on their sides as a prelude to mating. 

Females reproduce yearly and can have six to 25 pups, depending on their size. 

Gestation depends on location. It takes about 8 to 9 months for the babies to gestate off the coast of Western India and 10-11 months off the coast of Northern Australia. 

It’s generally considered harmless to humans, and the winghead shark is fished throughout its range for shark fin soup and other products.

This has contributed to population issues, and the IUCN considers them endangered. Its population is doing fine in Australian waters where it’s not fished.