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Cornell University


Cornell University and University of Queensland via edX


Sharks! Global Biodiversity, Biology, and Conservation:

Did you know that you can track some sharks’ movements online? Or that the scales on their skin have influenced the way humans design boats, planes, and even swimsuits? Or that sharks have more senses than humans?

In this biology course, you will learn how scientists study sharks. You will join researchers on location in labs, aquariums, and oceans across the globe to learn about the biodiversity, biology, and conservation of sharks, rays, and chimaeras.

In this activity‑rich course, you’ll track movements of a wild shark, observe shark habitats and behavior, and dig into the fossil record. You will also examine topics in the functional anatomy, sensory biology, reproduction, behavior, and ecology of many of the 1,200 living species.

This is an exciting time to be a shark biologist. An explosion of new research methods and technologies are leading to a surprising world of discovery. We’ll introduce new, as well as traditional techniques, for classifying sharks, understanding behavior, and unraveling the mysteries of shark evolution. We will explore global shark populations to consider shark-human interactions and their impacts on history and culture.

You’ll be rewarded by your ability to see virtually any animal with new eyes. Practice thinking like a biologist while honing critical skills that can lead to broader observations about the ongoing history of life on Earth.


  • Section 1: The Big Picture - Biodiversity and Evolution
  • Section 2: Miracles of Evolution - Functional Morphology and Physiology
  • Section 3: Thinking Like a Shark - Brains and Behavior
  • Section 4: Sharks in the World - Human Interactions, Ecology, and Conservation

Taught by

William E. Bemis, Warren D. Allmon, Ian Tibbetts, Betty McGuire, Elizabeth Balko and Joshua Moyer


5.0 rating, based on 5 Class Central reviews

5 rating at edX based on 5 ratings

Start your review of Sharks!

  • This was a great course, presented by an enthusiastic team. Videos included interviews with a range of specialists in various aspects of shark anatomy, ecology, behavior and more.

    Links to shark-tracking websites, a 1740 book by Linnaeus (who devised the scientific naming system), and other interesting sites are also found in the course.

    Highly recommended.
  • I really liked this course, since you can learn not only about different kinds of these amazing creatures, but also about myths, conservation, and their evolutionary history. Also, you can track shark movements and learn basics of anatomy, biology, and shark behavior, which makes this course an excellent standalone guide to these magnificent creatures. Quizzes depend on the videos watched, and are not that difficult, but I suggest taking notes. :)
  • Profile image for Skiboltskie Skye
    Skiboltskie Skye
    Informative, interesting, well laid out with engaging and knowledgeable instructors. Enjoyed the course so much that I paid for the certificate. Would be nice if the instructors developed an additional course or a supplementary course to build on the original content. Who would have thought sharks, rays and chimeras would be so interesting.
  • Hailey Meinen
    Really interesting material. Not too difficult, and can be done with minimal engagement and still get good information. Lots of good resources and excellent videos. Highly recommend for those interested in marine biology in general or sharks in particular.
  • Dr Michael White
    The most awesome course imaginable! Excellent videos, understandable information, even in the more complex topics. Willie is superb. So many interesting interviews with cutting edge researchers and colleagues. Take the plunge and meet these ancient marine creatures :)

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