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Living Fossil: Prehistoric Shark From Age Of Dinosaurs Caught Off Portugal Coast

12 November 2017, 3:22 pm EST By Samriddhi Dastidar Tech Times
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Scientists in Portugal have captured a shark, which is literally from the age of the dinosaurs, and dubbed it as a living fossil because of its origin that can be traced back to 80 million years.

Netting A Prehistoric Fish

The shark was accidentally snagged by a fishing trawler at a depth of 2,300 feet in the waters off Portimao on the Algarve Coast.

After noticing the creature’s strange appearance, the commercial fishermen handed it over to a research team from the Institute for the Sea and Atmospheres, who were working on a project to decrease unwanted catches in commercial fishing.

The captured shark was found to be a male specimen that measured five feet in length, with a slim and long snake-like body.

The Frilled Shark

Professor Margarida Castro from the University of the Algarve said that the frilled shark gets its name from the frilled arrangement of its 300 triangular-shaped, needle-sharp teeth in 25 rows that allows it to trap other sharks, fish, and squid in sudden lunges. The prehistoric fish is officially known as the Chlamydoselachus Anguineus.

The frilled shark’s mouth gives an appearance of it being bigger in size than other sharks; however, this is because the mouth stretches to the back of its head instead of ending beneath the skull.

The fish also has six frilled gills in its throat, with the initial gill slit positioned across the throat as if a blade has cut it off.

In spite, of its formidable image, the frilled shark is not dangerous to humans and 60 percent of its diet consists only of marine mollusks.

Not much is known about the shark’s environment or biology because it lives in great depths of water, which is also why it is rarely caught. Scientists, therefore, have not been able to study it in research laboratories and there is also little footage of the primeval shark in its natural habitat.

The frilled shark is found across the wide stretch of the Atlantic and in the areas near the Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores, Galicia, Scotland, and Norway. It is also found living in the great depths of the Indian and the Pacific Oceans, particularly off the coasts of New Zealand, Australia, and Japan.

Samuel Garman, the first researcher to have studied the frilled shark, had reportedly said that the snake-like movements of the frilled shark may have inspired the sea serpent stories of sailors from yore.

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