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Freaky Frilled Shark Caught Off Australian Coast is a 'Living Fossil'

Jan 21, 2015 12:39 PM EST

A freaky frilled shark was caught off the Australian coast this week, a terrifying-looking species that dates back 80 million years.

Known as a "living fossil," Chlamydoselachus anguineus was named for its six pairs of frilly-like gill slits, and is one of the most primitive sharks in existence. It also boasts 300 razor-sharp teeth arranged in 25 rows, lethal enough to swallow boney fish and other sharks whole.

So when a crew of fishermen in Victoria hauled in the 6.5-foot-long (2-meter) shark, needless to say they were shocked.

"We couldn't find a fisherman who had ever seen one before," Simon Boag from the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) told News Corp Australia. "It looks prehistoric, it looks like it's from another time."

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) confirmed that the catch was indeed a frilled shark - a species that frequents depths of 4,922 feet (1,500 m) below the ocean's surface. This specimen was caught 2,297 feet (or 700 m) below the surface.

According to SETFIA, this is the first time in living memory that the frilled shark has been sighted. It is one of two remaining species of this ancient family that dates back 80 million years.

C. anguineus, with it shark-like fin and eel-like body, is typically found scattered throughout the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on the outer and upper continental slopes, generally near the bottom. And like most deep-sea creatures, the frilled shark resembles that of a hideous monster.

"The head on it was like something out of a horror movie. It was quite horrific looking. ... It was quite scary actually," David Guillot, a skipper on the vessel that caught the shark, told The Sydney Morning Herald.

It joins the list of bizarre sea creatures hauled in this past year, among them a grotesque goblin shark caught in the Gulf of Mexico, and a rare megamouth shark off the coast of Japan.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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