Friday, 24 November, 2017

Shark Dating Back to 800 Million Years Found Swimming Offcoast of Portugal

Rarely seen 'living fossil' frilled shark caught off Algarve coast Portuguese trawler nets 'prehistoric shark'
Theresa Hayes | 13 November, 2017, 12:51

A frilled shark, a species that is often termed a "living fossil" because of several "primitive" features that have survived for millions of years, has been captured off the coast of Portugal's Algarve region, the country's meteorological and sea institute has announced.

The male shark, which measured 1.5m, was caught near the resort of Portimao. The scientists were working on a European Union project to "minimise unwanted catches in commercial fishing" when they came across this "shark from the age of the dinosaurs".

Researchers from Portugal's national meteorological, seismic, sea and atmospheric organisation, IPMA, said it was a "true living fossil", because its remains had been unchanged for 80 million years, according to BBC News' translation of a Sic Noticias report. In total, the shark has six pairs of gills that have "frilly" edges.

The creature gets its name from the frilled nature of its teeth, which allow it to devour its food. In this case, the shark was caught at a depth of 700 metres.

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. The discovery adds to the list of very few sharks recently found in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. It has also been speculated that the frilled shark influenced 19th century sailors stories of sea serpents.

The frilled shark has a remarkably simple anatomy, probably because of a lack of nutrients in its aquatic environment. Pretty much all other sharks have separate gills, but the frilled shark's first pair of gills stretch all the way across its throat. Scientists only know that these are one of the creepiest creatures existing beneath the ocean surface.