Frilled sharks are known as “living fossils” since they haven’t evolved much in their 80 million years on Earth. Frilled sharks have been swimming the Earth’s depths since the time of the dinosaurs, and are a distant relative of other sharks such as great whites and hammerheads.
According to the BBC, researchers captured the uncommon frilled shark while trawling the depths of the Atlantic Ocean in quest of a means to “minimize unwanted catches in commercial fishing.” The first to write about this creature were clearly terrified 19th-century seafarers.
The male fish measured 1.5 meters (5 feet) in length and was taken at a depth of 700 meters (2,300 feet) in waters off the coast of Portimao, according to the Portuguese Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere.
Researchers on board the ship characterized the shark as having a “long, slender body and a head that is evocative of a snake,” according to a statement published by the Portuguese Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere.
They also mentioned that very little is known about the uncommon species. It’s been discovered all throughout the Atlantic, as well as off the coastlines of Japan and Australia. Scientists are uncertain how many individuals make up the population because the shark lives at great depths.
The biggest can reach a length of 6 feet, making them the size of a tall man. The shark gets its name from its frilly, fluffy gills, but the cuddly appeal ends there.
The shark’s 300 needle-sharp teeth neatly arranged in 25 rows may appear scary, but they are the most dangerous to the other fish and squid it is believed to consume. Frilled sharks, like contemporary sharks, had a movable jaw that allows them to capture big food in their needle-shaped teeth.
Because of a scarcity of nutrients in its watery habitat, the frilled fish has a surprisingly basic anatomy. However, no one knows for sure why it outlived its Cretaceous Period contemporaries.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the frilled shark as a species of least concern, however, they warn that increased deep-water commercial fishing might raise the risk of bycatch.
So, for the time being, it’s just another of those more frequent reminders that some of the most terrifying creatures on the planet are floating beneath what looks to be a peaceful ocean surface.
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