“Prehistoric shark” captured in Algarvian waters

A “living fossil” of a shark was captured off the Algarve coast last August.

Portuguese researchers working on Project MINOUW caught the male shark at a depth of 700 metres while on board a commercial trawler.

The ‘frilled shark’ (Chlamydoselachus anguineus) is a species rarely seen due to the fact that it lives so far beneath the ocean surface.

As the announcement from IPMA (Portuguese institute of sea and atmosphere) explained, this is why frilled shark are referred to as “living fossils” – even though they have a “vast geographic distribution” throughout the Atlantic and into the Indian Ocean.

With long, eel-type bodies and snake-like heads, these creatures can reach lengths of around two metres.

This one was 1.5 metres long, and as IPMA explained, had a “very particular set of teeth” bearing in mind that its ecology and biology are “so little known”.

Project Minouw – made up of over 15 maritime science institutes and bodies from across Europe – “aims to encourage the adoption of fishing technologies and practices that reduce unwanted catches, and contribute to the eventual elimination of discards in European fisheries”.

Very much a ‘discard’ on the basis that frilled shark have “little economic value”, this chance discovery will have nonetheless been seen as a bonus.

According to Wikipedia, this species belongs to one of the oldest still-extant shark lineages, dating back to at least the late Cretaceous (about 95 million years) period, and possibly to the Late Jurassic (150 million years.

IPMA investigators shared the ‘coup’ with colleagues working at CCMAR and the University of the Algarve.

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