Prehistoric shark caught in Portugese waters, scientists call it a 'living fossil'

The species caught was a male measuring 1.5 metres (5ft) in length and was caught at a depth of 700 metres (2,300 ft) in waters off the resort of Portimao.

By Zee Media Bureau | Updated: Nov 13, 2017, 11:55 AM IST
Prehistoric shark caught in Portugese waters, scientists call it a 'living fossil'
Image courtesy: David Curry Holmes/Twitter

New Delhi: It's not everyday you see a prehistoric creature swimming around in the oceans, but looks like it was a lucky day for Portugese scientists, who caught a "shark from the age of the dinosaurs" off the Algarve coast.

The rare frilled shark was captured aboard a trawler by the researchers who were working on a European Union project to "minimise unwanted catches in commercial fishing", Sic Noticias TV reports.

The shark has been dubbed as the 'living fossil' by scientists from the country's Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere, since its remains date back 80 million years. This makes it one of very few species of such antiquity still around today.

The species caught was a male measuring 1.5 metres (5ft) in length and was caught at a depth of 700 metres (2,300 ft) in waters off the resort of Portimao.

According to the scientists, the long, slime, snake-like shark is "little known in terms of its biology or environment",because it lives at great depths in the Atlantic and off the coasts of Australia, New Zealand and Japan, BBC reported.

It is rarely caught, and even then examples do not often make it to research laboratories. There is also little footage of the shark in its natural habitat.

As per BBC, professor Margarida Castro of the University of the Algarve told Sic Noticias that the shark gets its name from the frilled arrangement of its 300 teeth, "which allows it to trap squid, fish and other sharks in sudden lunges".

The reporter dubbed it a "monster of the deep", and it is true that Samuel Garman, the first scientist to study the frilled shark, thought its snake-like movements may have inspired sailors' stories of sea serpents.