So, you think dinosaurs have been long dead? Well, think again. Among the recent haul by some deep sea fishermen in Portugal, there in lies a strange deep sea creature. It was stuff of nightmare and also a reminder to us that there are much to learn about this little blue marble we live on. The bycatch in question was a shark, but it was a shark unlike no other. It is called a frilled shark, or scientifically, chlamydoselachus anguineus, this strange creature of the deep does not bear the usual fish-like, streamlined body common to almost any shark.
Instead it has an almost snake-like body. It looks more like an eel, really, and most unnervingly part is not quite the appearance (although it most certainly rank high up in the nightmare-o-meter); it was its 300 teeth and mind you, those aren’t just any teeth. They were frilled, hence the name frilled shark, and they were all backward facing which once a prey is caught by them, there’s no escaping, like ever. That’s the nightmarish part. Another intriguing part about this ancient creature is, it strives 20-1,500 meters (65-4900 feet) below the sea surface which explains the rare sightings.
More amazingly is, it has been surviving in the deep for roughly 80 million years. 80 million freaking years! That kind of puts this weird deep sea beast in Cretaceous Period in the Mesozoic Era, AKA “Age of Dinosaurs,” long before humans, Homo sapiens walks the Earth and in a period where Velociraptor, Tyrannosaurus Rex were stomping through magnolias, laurel, barberry and sycamores, devouring Protoceratops and Hadrosaurs. And it is for this reason, this very deep sea dwellers have earned itself the nickname of “living fossil.” Well, what can I say? It sure deserves the title.
Anywho, the 1.5 meters (5 feet) rare specimen was caught off the coasts of Portugal at a depth of around 700 meters (2.300 feet), but sadly it was dead when it was hauled up. However, this accidental catch wasn’t the first. A school of 34 frill sharks were caught back in 2003, also near Portugal, and then in 2015, a fisherman in Australia also accidental caught one while trawling. Man, I wish they’d stop trawling that deep. These ancient fellows have been living without human intervention so far and we have to fish them up, only to find them dead.
On one hand we celebrate the find because it lets us learn more about what we do not know about this lovely planet, but on the other, we pity that we, humans, have to disrupt their peaceful habitation. Hopefully, this will be last of the catch. I say, just let them be.
— Sara Laughter (@GreenAwakening) November 13, 2017
Image and source via Lost At E Minor.
Additional info: Livescience.