November 13, 2017

80 million-year-old shark with snake head and 300 teeth caught off Portuguese coast

by Neha Monga

The discovery of a dinosaur-era shark with 300 teeth and a snake’s head in Portuguese coast has caused waves in the scientific world.

The frilled shark was hauled out of the water by EU fish stock researchers during a research project on how to minimise unwanted catches during commercial fishing, reports The Sun.

The shark has been called a “living fossil” by the Portuguese Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere since the rare species dates back 80 million years.

Its prehistoric contemporaries, like Tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops, died out long ago, but the frilled shark with its long, slim, snakelike body still swims at great depths of at least 700 metres (2,300 feet).

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Professor Margarida Castro of the University of the Algarve told Sic Noticias that the shark has 300 teeth, “which allows it to trap squid, fish and other sharks in sudden lunges”.

According to the Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere, the captured shark measured 1.5 m in length and was swimming off the Algarve coast.

Very little is known about the frilled shark that usually lives in the Atlantic and in waters near Australia, New Zealand and Japan. At such depths the shark is in constant darkness, crushing pressure and extremely cold temperatures.

The scientists named the creature as Chlamydoselachus anguineus for its gills — the frilled arrangement of 300 teeth, neatly lined in 25 rows. The shark has six pair of gills which has frilly edges. The creature is mostly unevolved due to the lack of nutrients available in deep-sea dwellings. However, it is not known why this species has survived when other prehistoric creatures have not.

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From time to time scientists have made other unusual discoveries including a long, toothy eel – likely a member of the snake-eel Opichthidai family – that was found washed up and decomposing on a Texas beach.

Safe to say, these discoveries in the recent year make you stay a little away from the beach.

     

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