Sharks are a group of elasmobranch fish characterized by a cartilaginous skeleton, five to seven gill slits on the sides of the head, and pectoral fins that are not fused to the head. Modern sharks are classified within the clade Selachimorpha and are the sister group to the rays. However, the term "shark" has also been used to refer to all extinct members of Chondrichthyes with a shark-like morphology, such as hybodonts and xenacanths. The oldest modern sharks are known from the Early Jurassic. They range in size from the small dwarf lanternshark, a deep sea species that is only 17 centimetres in length, to the whale shark, the largest fish in the world, which reaches approximately 12 metres in length. Sharks are found in all seas and are common to depths up to 2,000 metres. They generally do not live in freshwater, although there are a few known exceptions, such as the bull shark and the river shark, which can be found in both seawater and freshwater.

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