The discovery of an ultra-rare frilled shark on the Algarve coast has astonished a group of researchers who reported on the finding.
The frilled shark has often been called a “living fossil” both because of its appearance and how it has been basically unchanged for 80 million years, and the discovery of one of these rare creatures has gotten scientists excited. Researchers found a living frilled shark off the coast of Portugal, and more specifically the Algarve coast.
Researchers had been working on a European Union project that was dedicated to minimizing unwanted catches in commercial fishing, and they weren’t expecting to find one of these rare fishes. The frilled shark probably looks the same today as it did back during the Cretaceous Period when the dinosaurs ruled the work, and it lives primarily in the deep sea, which is why they’re so rare to see.
It typically lives about 390 to 4,200 feet below the surface, and we didn’t even know they existed until the 19th century. This particular shark was about five feet in length, although they can grow to about a foot and a half longer than that. It is named after its unusual gills, which stretch along its throat unlike with most sharks.
“The frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus) is one of two extant species of shark in the family Chlamydoselachidae, with a wide but patchy distribution in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans,” according to Wikipedia. “This species is found over the outer continental shelf and upper continental slope, generally near the bottom, though there is evidence of substantial upward movements. It has been caught as deep as 1,570 m (5,150 ft), although it is uncommon below 1,200 m (3,900 ft). In Suruga Bay, Japan, it is most common at depths of 50–200 m (160–660 ft). Exhibiting several “primitive” features, the frilled shark has often been termed a “living fossil”. It reaches a length of 2 m (6.6 ft) and has a dark brown, eel-like body with the dorsal, pelvic, and anal fins placed far back. Its common name comes from the frilly or fringed appearance of its six pairs of gill slits, with the first pair meeting across the throat.”