Jezebel is committed to bringing readers quality shark news in an effort to highlight the wonder of these incredible and deeply misunderstood creatures. Today’s dispatch focuses on the frilled shark, a species which scientists believe lived more or less unchanged for 80 million years and which is rarely spotted by the human eye.
According to the BBC, researchers captured a frilled shark specimen off the Algarve coast by Portugal, while working for the European Union on a project that seeks to minimize the huge number of “unwanted” catches in commercial fishing enterprises. Somewhat ironic then that they scooped up a creature that generally lives up to thousands and thousands of feet underwater. In fact, this one was at a depth of 2,300 feet when it got caught by the researcher’s trawler. There are some very sad pictures of it looking all dead here, if you’re interested, but here is a frilled shark in action from another rare sighting in 2007:
IFL reports that the frilled shark can grow as long as 6 feet, has six pairs of gill slits all along its neck, 300 tricuspid teeth arranged in five rows going back into its mouth, and its existence dates back to the Cretaceous period, so they were swimming around as the T-Rex was limping its way towards extinction. It’s also a great example of how the shark smear campaign existed long before Jaws:
Samuel Garman was one of the first scientists to study the animal, back in 1883. He believed its snake-like qualities inspired legends of sea serpents. Scientists today think it’s likely they attack their prey the same way snakes do, by striking suddenly. But because there is very little footage of the shark, we do not know for sure.
A striking snake-like shark with 300 teeth may sound scary, but don’t be fooled. According to Newsweek, their diet seems to largely composed of cephalopods. They like calamari as much as you do. And besides, you would be crushed to death by the weight of the ocean long before you encountered one of these ancient creatures. It is the rising waters that should terrify you, not the embodied markers of time swimming blindly in the dark. Yay, sharks!