Portuguese trawler catches 'prehistoric shark' during mission to 'minimise commercial fishing'

Joseph Gamp
A rare discovery of a frilled shark was discovered off the coast of Portugal. The shark species is thought to be 80 million years old and is rarely encountered by humans alive: SIC Noticas

Portuguese scientists have captured what they believe to be “a shark from the age of dinosaurs” off the Algarve coast.

The rare frilled shark was caught aboard a trawler, which was coincidentally working on a project for the European Union which concentrates on “minimising unwanted catches in commercial fishing".

According to a press release by the Alliance of Mediterranean News Agencies, scientists from the country’s Institute For The Sea and Atmosphere have dubbed the shark a “living fossil”, as remains of the shark date back around 80 million years.

The discovery of the shark – a male 1.5 metres in length (5ft) and caught at a depth of 700 metres (2,300ft) off the resort of Portimao - was considered a rare find.

The shark itself is little known in terms of it's biology or environment and is rarely caught.

The frilled shark's snake-like movements and elongated, eel-like body is said to have inspired sailors' stories of sea serpents, after Samuel Garman first studied the shark in 1884.

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Professor Margarida Castro of the University of the Algarve told Sic Noticias that the shark gets its name from its frilled arrangement of 300 teeth, which allows the shark "to trap squid, fish and other sharks in sudden lunges."

The shark is said to date back 80 million years and features a range of primitive features, such as 300 sharp teeth and a weakened vertebrae among other attributes. (SIC Noticas)

The frilled shark has rarely been encountered alive, and thus poses no danger to humans, although scientists have accidentally cut themselves examining the species teeth.