It is not every day that we find a species from the prehistoric era still swimming in our oceans. And that too one that probably has sent the minds of many a tired and frightened sailor into wild trips of sweat-soaked imagination for centuries.
So one can imagine the surprise that researchers from Portugal’s Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere were in for when they caught a frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus) recently. The scientists called it a “snake-like shark” — a member of a species that has been living on earth from 80 million years ago.
It was a case of scientific serendipity. The researchers were not looking for the shark, or any “living fossils” for that matter. They were working on a project to minimize unwanted catches in commercial fishing, the BBC reported quoting Sic Noticias TV.
The dinosaur-era shark, a male, was pulled into a fishing trawler from a depth of 700 meters (2,300 feet) and measured 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) long. Japanese studies have previously shown that the frilled shark lived deep down in the ocean, in depths of 100 to 1,300 meters, and rarely came up on the surface.