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Fangs and Frills: The Frilled Shark Resurfaces

NUMAZU%2C+JAPAN+-+JANUARY+21%3A+In+this+handout+picture+released+by+Awashima+Marine+Park%2C+a+1.6+meter+long+Frill+shark+swims+in+a+tank+after+being+found+by+a+fisherman+at+a+bay+in+Numazu%2C+on+January+21%2C+2007+in+Numazu%2C+Japan.+The+frill+shark%2C+also+known+as+a+Frilled+shark%2C+usually+lives+in+waters+of+a+depth+of+600+meters+and+so+it+is+very+rare+that+this+shark+is+found+alive+at+sea-level.+Its+body+shape+and+the+number+of+gills+are+similar+to+fossils+of+sharks+which+lived+350%2C000%2C000+years+ago.+%28Photo+by+Awashima+Marine+Park%2FGetty+Images%29
NUMAZU, JAPAN - JANUARY 21: In this handout picture released by Awashima Marine Park, a 1.6 meter long Frill shark swims in a tank after being found by a fisherman at a bay in Numazu, on January 21, 2007 in Numazu, Japan. The frill shark, also known as a Frilled shark, usually lives in waters of a depth of 600 meters and so it is very rare that this shark is found alive at sea-level. Its body shape and the number of gills are similar to fossils of sharks which lived 350,000,000 years ago. (Photo by Awashima Marine Park/Getty Images)

NUMAZU, JAPAN - JANUARY 21: In this handout picture released by Awashima Marine Park, a 1.6 meter long Frill shark swims in a tank after being found by a fisherman at a bay in Numazu, on January 21, 2007 in Numazu, Japan. The frill shark, also known as a Frilled shark, usually lives in waters of a depth of 600 meters and so it is very rare that this shark is found alive at sea-level. Its body shape and the number of gills are similar to fossils of sharks which lived 350,000,000 years ago. (Photo by Awashima Marine Park/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Getty Images

NUMAZU, JAPAN - JANUARY 21: In this handout picture released by Awashima Marine Park, a 1.6 meter long Frill shark swims in a tank after being found by a fisherman at a bay in Numazu, on January 21, 2007 in Numazu, Japan. The frill shark, also known as a Frilled shark, usually lives in waters of a depth of 600 meters and so it is very rare that this shark is found alive at sea-level. Its body shape and the number of gills are similar to fossils of sharks which lived 350,000,000 years ago. (Photo by Awashima Marine Park/Getty Images)

Katy Robinson, Staff Writer

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In 2007, a fisherman living in Tokyo, Japan was talking to Awashima Marine Park officials about sighting a mysterious eel-like creature lurking in the shallow waters. The fisherman directed them to where he saw the creature and the officials captured it, later identifying that it was a frilled shark. This year, earlier in November, European Union scientists doing research on the Atlantic near Portugal caught the same creature in their trawling nets, a creature whose contemporaries have been extinct for millions of years.

The frilled shark has been given many names before its most well-known name “frilled shark”; it has been called “sea serpent” and even “Loch Ness Monster.” The frilled shark has lived in places such as Southeast Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, West Africa, Chile, and the Caribbean. Another nickname used for this shark is “the living fossil” because it belongs to a primitive Cretaceous-period species that has changed very little over millions of years of existence.

When opened, the mouth of the frilled shark holds 300 teeth aligned in 25 different rows. The shark’s mouth looks bigger than it actually is due to the jaw terminating at the back of the head instead of underneath the skull. The head gives the illusion that it is all mouth. Running down towards the throat area, the shark possesses six frilled gills, hence its name.

Ichthyologists, or fish scientists, assume that the shark navigates the water by wriggling. The shark possesses an oil- and hydrocarbon-packed liver that enables it to float and hover at depths between 160 and 660 feet. No one has ever observed it hunting, but scientists theorize that the shark strikes suddenly at its prey, similar to a snake’s attack.

This shark has rarely been spotted in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, so we will continue to keep an eye on it!

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Fangs and Frills: The Frilled Shark Resurfaces