Cookies!

The overwhelming majority of people preferred to be nourished by cookies… so you’re in good company. Cookies were chosen by 88% of my audience! So, who the heck eats this?

Cookie Cutter Sharks (Genus: Isistius)

Sadly, humans are the only animals to eat something so delicious as a chocolate chip cookie. But there is a fellow who likes flesh cookies… and it’s the cookie cutter shark.

8493638644_5fda2126d4_o
The strange (and sharp!) teeth of a cookie cutter shark. Perfect for cutting cookie-shaped chunks of flesh from dolphins, just like Grandma used to make. Photo: Flickr/JSUBiology

These are small, deep-sea sharks (less than a metre) who swim up to the sea surface at night to feast on marine mega fauna like dolphins and seals. They have an incredible set of sharp nashers and a circular jaw. With these weapons they latch onto their victims and spin their bodies around to cut out circular chunks of flesh.

cookie cutter bites
Someone’s been snacking on meat cookies: two victims of cookie cutter shark bites. Photo top: NOAA, Photo bottom: Jerry Kirkhart

Maybe not as good as chocolate chip, but these meat cookies aren’t fatal to their prey (though they do leave gnarly scars). Instead the cookie cutter acts as a parasite and this is a pretty handy strategy. By not actually killing your victims, you don’t deplete their numbers so there’s always plenty of food! Hooray!

Back to the questions!
What you didn’t choose: Baby Seal Eyeballs

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 6.26.54 pm

References

Dwyer, S. L., & Visser, I. N. (2011). Cookie cutter shark (Isistius sp.) bites on cetaceans, with particular reference to killer whales (orca)(Orcinus orca). Aquatic Mammals37(2), 111.

Heithaus, M. R. (2001). Predator–prey and competitive interactions between sharks (order Selachii) and dolphins (suborder Odontoceti): a review. Journal of Zoology253(01), 53-68.