Hydrocarbons in Digestive Tract and Liver of a Basking Shark

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Science  21 Apr 1967:
Vol. 156, Issue 3773, pp. 390-391
DOI: 10.1126/science.156.3773.390


The hydrocarbons of zooplankton pass through the digestive tract of the basking shark without fractionation or structural modification. They are resorbed in the spiral valve and deposited in the liver. In contrast to unsaturated fatty acids, the olefinic hydrocarbons are not decreased in concentration. The hydrocarbon assemblage in the digestive tract and in the liver is indicative of the food sources and feeding grounds of the shark. Squalene, abundant in shark liver, occurs only in traces in zooplankton; phytane, if present at all, constitutes less than 0.005 percent of the hydrocarbons of zooplankton and of shark liver.