There are some very surprising and yet terrifying creatures in the depths of the oceans and scientists in Portugal have just proved this once again. While they were working on how to reduce unwanted catches in commercial fishing off the coasts of Portimão, they came across quite a surprising specimen.
Measuring 1.5 meters long, the creature had a slender body and head just like a snake, as well as an impressive jaw with rows and rows of sharp teeth. If this doesn’t surprise you, the fact that the specimen belongs to a species that is rarely observed should: the frilled shark, or by its more scientific name, the Chlamydoselachus anguineus.
A species from the depths
This species, which can be recognized because of its very unique appearance, can be found in large numbers across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans but is more commonly found near the seafloor. The Portuguese specimen, a male, was found 700 meters below the surface of the ocean, but the species is usually observed at 1,500 meters below the surface. This lifestyle explains why we still don’t know a lot about it.
‘Very little is known about the creature’s ecology,’ explained scientists from the European project MINOUW in a statement. We do however know that this shark eats cephalopods, bony fish and other sharks that they catch in their very flexible jaws thanks to its 300 sharp teeth before swallowing them.
The species is often described as ‘a living fossil’ because it has existed on Earth for more than 80 million years and it hasn’t evolved very much over this time. According to several scientists, observations of this frilled shark could also be what inspired the mythological sea serpent.
Threatened by unwanted catches
Currently, the species is classed as ‘Least Concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (UICN) but specialists have observed that because of an increase in their habitats and in commercial fishing restrictions, these frilled sharks could be more at risk.
The last specimen discovered was actually part of an unwanted catch. It was found in a boat’s net during a fishing trip off the coast of Australia in 2015. Check out the video to find out more!