A Prehistoric, Dinosaur-Era Shark Was Found off the Coast of Portugal

A rare frilled shark was caught off the coast of Portugal recently. The deep sea creature continues to mystify scientists.

A Prehistoric, Dinosaur-Era Shark Was Found off the Coast of Portugal
Frilled Shark (illustration) Citron/Wikimedia Commons    

No this isn’t some sloppy photoshop, this is a real animal swimming in our planet's oceans. This rare shark was accidentally caught by scientists off the coast of Portugal as they completed studies in best fishing practices.

The creature is a frilled shark or Chlamydoselachus anguineus. The frilled shark has been living at very deep depths for more than 80 million years, but scientists don't know a lot about them.

A Prehistoric, Dinosaur-Era Shark Was Found off the Coast of Portugal
Source: Citron/Wikimedia Commons

Shark could be at risk from increased fishing

The prehistoric-looking creature has 300 teeth arranged in a fairly terrifying bundled manner. While the teeth look intimidating they are less of a threat to humans than to its desired prey of squid and other sharks that they capture in its hinged jaw.

A Prehistoric, Dinosaur-Era Shark Was Found off the Coast of Portugal
Source: OpenCage/Wikimedia Commons

While the shark is a relative of the modern day great white and hammerhead shark, this species is relatively unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs.

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The shark reportedly gets its name from its frill like gills. Portuguese scientist who caught the shark described it as having a "long, slim body and a head that is reminiscent of a snake." Because the shark lives at such difficult to reach depths, little is known about their habits and population levels. The shark is currently listed as of “least concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the organization was quick to point out that an increase in deep-sea fishing practices could put the frilled shark at risk. The shark is thought to be found in waters off Portugal, Australia, and Japan.

A Prehistoric, Dinosaur-Era Shark Was Found off the Coast of Portugal
Source: OpenCage/Wikimedia Commons

Shark fin soup declines in popularity

Sharks are a crucial part of our ocean ecosystems, but many species are in great danger from overfishing. The fins of sharks are considered to have special properties for many people in China and Vietnam. The fins are believed to boost sexual potency, enhance skin quality, and increase energy. Because of the demand for shark fin soup, there has grown a large industry of illegal shark fishing where sharks are caught, their fins cut off before the shark is dumped back into the ocean still alive. Thankfully the use of shark fin in food and medicine is declining in popularity.

Sharks not a risk for humans

There are over 400 species of shark. Most sharks have highly developed sense of smell, hearing, and sight that assist them in tracking prey from great distances. Sharks are carnivorous but their diets range from microscopic plankton to large seals and even other sharks. Sharks have a bad reputation in many parts of the world as being human hunting killers. Despite the hype, more sharks are killed by humans than the other way around. The 1975 film Jaws based on the novel by Peter Benchley gave rise to many people's fears about sharks. Benchley regrets his novel and the film and is now an active shark conservationist.

 
 

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