A rare frilled shark, whose species dates back 80 million years, was caught in a fishing trawler off Australia’s coast in the state of Victoria.
Fisherman had no idea what the creature was in the beginning, only describing it to resemble an eel. Shortly, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) confirmed it to be a frilled shark.
These creatures are often referred to as a “living fossil.” It has an eel-like body with 3 fins on its back. It gets its name from the 6 pairs of gill slits that give it a fringed appearance. The shark, which reaches about 6 feet in length, has 300 needle-shaped teeth in 25 rows and it is believed to capture its prey by bending its body like a snake, Fox News explains. However, the teeth aren’t used for chewing, as the frilled shark swallow their prey whole. Their teeth are instead only used to keep the prey trapped in its mouth.
While the frilled shark may be a fearsome hunter, they are harmless to humans. Their needle-like teeth are better suited for fleshier creatures found in the deep sea, such as squid and other sharks, National Geographic says.
This particular shark was almost as large as they get and was caught at 2,296 feet below the surface, the South East Trawl Fishing Association said.
Simon Boag, the CEO of the association said, “It’s a freaky thing. I don’t think you would want to show it to little children before they went to bed.”
The poor thing was “unlucky,” since the shark was caught in shallower depths than it is usually found.
David Guillot, the captain of the Western Alliance Vessell, stated, “I’ve been at sea for 30 years and I’ve never seen a shark that looks like that. It was like a large eel, probably 1.5 meters [5 feet] long, and the body was quite different to any other shark I’d ever seen.”
Guillot said, “It does look 80 million years old. It looks prehistoric, it looks like it’s from another time!”
While the frilled shark is known right now as a “living fossil,” it may be joining its ancestors shortly. They are often accidentally caught and killed in trawlers’ nets in Japanese waters and are known to turn up in fertilizer or animal food and occasionally on dinner plates.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists the species as near threatened, meaning it “is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.”