When you visit The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank, you're guaranteed to see some live cownose rays and Atlantic rays swimming around the mangrove habitat. But you might also be lucky enough to run into one of our educators carrying a biofact of a shark or a ray. A biofact is an artifact from an animal, like a jaw or a tooth, like this one.
This is a cownose ray jaw. The teeth of the ray are close together and flat, creating a surface for cracking open shells—like a nutcracker.
The ray finds food buried in the sand and uses its fins and gills to move the sediment out of the way, creating a depression. Once the food is uncovered, the prey is seized and drawn into the mouth. Shells are crunched into small pieces and the ray gets lunch!
The cownose ray is found throughout a large part of the Western Atlantic, from the Chesapeake Bay to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. The rays live along inshore waters with sandy or muddy bottoms. These types of habitats are perfect for finding food including lobsters, clams, oysters and fish. And to help eat these hard-shelled items, the ray has the perfect crushing jaw.
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