are sharks fish or reptiles

Are Sharks Fish or Reptiles?

Sharks are one of the ocean’s most mysterious creatures, and their classification has been debated for hundreds of years. Are sharks fish or reptiles? To understand better, we must first look at the difference between fish and reptiles.

The Difference Between Fish and Reptiles

Fish and reptiles are two completely different classes of animals. Fish have gills, fins, and scales while reptiles have skin covered in scales or hard plates and can breathe air. Reptiles also have four walking legs, claws, and a lean body shape are some of the physical characteristics of reptiles which sets them apart from other animals.

Are Sharks Reptiles or Fish?

The classification of sharks is still a debate, depending on which characteristics you choose to classify them. From a physical perspective, sharks resemble fish with their fins and scales. On the other hand, their slimy skin and ability to breathe air like reptiles make them really hard to classify. Sharks also have a two-chambered heart, a trait found more in reptiles than in fish.


Sharks can display a combination of traits found in fish and reptiles, so it’s hard to classify them definitively. Ultimately, it’s up to scientists to decide which characteristics to prioritise when classifying animals into different categories. Here are the main characteristics of each:

  • Fish: Gills, fins, scales.
  • Reptiles:Skin covered in scales or hard plates, four walking legs, claws, a lean body shape and a two-chambered heart.

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