Scientists capture extremely rare shark described as a 'living fossil'

Posted at 11:50 AM, Nov 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-15 15:21:01-05

European scientists say they have caught a rare fish they describe as a "living fossil."

According to the BBC, scientists for the European Union's Institute for Sea and Atmosphere captured a 5-foot long frilled shark in the waters off the coast of southern Portugal.

Frilled sharks are rarely seen by humans, and typically live thousands of feet below the ocean's surface. This particular shark was caught at a depth of 2,300 feet.

According to Fox News, there have only been three recorded sightings of frilled sharks in the past 10 years. The fish was spotted twice near the coast of Japan in 2007 and 2017, and in Australia in 2014.



The fish has a long, snake-like body, puffy gills that "frill" out from the side of its head and more than 300 teeth. According to Desert News, scientists have found remains of creatures similar to the frilled shark that date back 80 million years — around the time when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Scientists hope to learn about the shark's behavior and habitat from the capture. The BBC reports that even in the rate instances in which the shark is caught, they're rarely brought back to research labs.

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.