Rarely seen 'living fossil' frilled shark caught off Algarve coast

Rarely seen ‘living fossil’ frilled shark caught off Algarve coast

Scientists believe the frilled shark has remained the same, both inside and out, since the Cretaceous Period, when the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops still roamed the planet.

A rare frilled shark is considered a "living fossil", because evidence of its existence dates back to at least 80 million years ago.

The shark dates back 80 million years to the "age of the dinosaurs" and is one of the oldest living species today.

A little-known frilled shark has been found off the Algarve coast in Portugal by scientists, who were conducting research on minimising unwanted catches in European fisheries.

The shark itself is little known in terms of it's biology or environment and is rarely caught.

And it is not known why this species has survived when other prehistoric creatures have not.

A Japanese study of the shark found in Suruga Bay, Japan, revealed that its diet is 61 percent cephalopods-the class to which squids and octopus belong. They have layers of frilly gills on their sides along with 25 rows of teeth, about 300 in all. Scientists didn't discover them until the 19th century.

Even though both the 2003 catch and the most recent one were near Portugal, these toothy sharks live in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, usually near outer continental shelves and the bases of islands, the IUCN said.

As if you needed another reason to never step foot in the ocean ever again, here comes the frill shark to haunt your dreams. However, unless we precisely know what creatures lurk beneath the surface and in the great beyond, the ocean remains to be one of the most risky places here on our planet.

The researchers believe that the animal has remained unchanged over the millions of years, and how it managed to survive unchanged when nearly all species were wiped out or forced to evolve to survive is a mystery.

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