A creature whose ancestry dates back to as early as 80 million years ago, has been found in the waters off south-eastern Victoria in Australia.
David Guillot was fishing in the waters near Lakes Entrance in the Gippsland region when he caught the rarely seen frilled shark last month. The fisherman related that he had been at sea for three decades but he has never seen such a creature, which is also known as a living fossil.
"When one of the deckhands went to pick it up by its tail, its ability to turn back on itself quite sharply was something I hadn't seen before either," Guillot said. "I've caught a lot of sharks in my life, but it seemed like it was really looking at you and quite aggressively going for you."
Guillot described the creature as something that looked like a large eel with length measuring about 1.5 meters. He also described the head of the shark as something from a horror movie and the creature in general as scary.
It was the first time that a frilled shark had been seen in living memory, said Simon Boag, from the South East Trawl Fishing Association, adding that no other fisherman has seen the creature before and that the shark looks prehistoric as it appears to have come from another time.
Although the shark's face and body resemble those of an eel, its tail is reminiscent of a shark. The creature's mouth also has 300 needle-like teeth over 25 rows that can easily snag off the soft-bodied preys such as an octopus and a squid and make it difficult for the prey to come out of its mouth.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) confirmed that the creature was a frilled shark and although the scientific community is aware about the species, finding it can be a rare and bizarre thing for local fishermen.
The shark was initially offered to CISRO but Australia's national science body declined it because it already has specimens. The frilled shark is now believed to have been sold.
Frilled sharks are more likely to be found in cool and temperate waters, said Australian Institute of Marine Science shark biologist Mark Meekan. The captured shark was caught at 700 meters but experts said there is not likely a repeat catch of this shark. The creature often resides in waters with depth of 1200 meters.