An uncommon passenger was picked up by a Portuguese trawler during a research among the Portugal cost this week. While working on an EU-led mission, in order to find new ways of lowering the number of accidental catches by commercial fishing, the fortunate researchers came across a frilled shark ( Chlamydoselachus anguineus ).
The fact that this particular species of shark is really hard to find (the frilled shark usually lives in somewhere between 500 and 1,000 meters of depth), makes this discovery extremely rare example of one the most archaic species that ever lived on this planet. The analysis of this type of fossils that were conducted on some previous discoveries proved that the frilled sharks lived in the Cretaceous period, along with the Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops, 80 million years ago.
This particular fossil has barely changed over time so the researchers called it a “living fossil”. The frilled shark is long and eel-like, with six pairs of gill slits and 300 tricuspid teeth in the mouth, as you can see from the image below. Every single tooth has tree more needle-sharp points.
This representative was found near the Algarve coast, a place near the Portimao resort. The researchers found it diving at 700 meters (2,3000 feet) of depth.
Chlamydoselachus anguineus can grow up to 2 meters (6.5 feet). It’s known that the males grow smaller than females. This specific catch was 1.5 meters (5 feet) long and is still unknown whether it’s male or female.
The first analysis of this type of shark was made back in 1883 by Samuel Garman. He believed that the legends of sea serpents were incited exactly from this type of sharks. Nowadays, the scientists believe that these animals were killing their prey with a sudden strike, just like a snake does. However, we can’t take this for granted yet as there is not much footage of the shark.
In an interview made by The Portuguese TV channel Sic Noticias, the researchers stated that we still know very little about their biology or environment. We know for sure that they like deeper waters. We can find them in Atlantic and Pacific oceans, but they have a patchy range. This means that we still haven’t got enough video footage to see how they act in their natural habitat. Thus, they are really hard to catch and when so, it’s even harder to be taken to a lab for further studies.
So whenever a frilled shark is caught, it makes headlines.