Home / NEWS / 80-Million-Year-Old Prehistoric Shark with A Snake Head and Terrifying Teeth Is Still Alive Today

80-Million-Year-Old Prehistoric Shark with A Snake Head and Terrifying Teeth Is Still Alive Today

By Andrew Alpin, 21 June

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When scientists found a specimen of a very rare prehistoric shark near the coast of Portugal, it made the news. No one knows why this species has been around for so long, but one thing is for sure: the frilled shark looks like it got stuck here from a different time. This begs the question are frilled sharks still alive? And are they really 80 million years old? Let’s find out.

1 Are frilled sharks rare?

The frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus) is listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This means that the species has a lower chance of going extinct. It is unclear how many of them are still in the oceans, though. Since they are rarely seen, it is impossible to ascertain how many of them still exist, and how old are they. Even though the specimen discovered near the coast of Portugal was found in the second half of the 1800s, scientists did not see the shark in its natural environment until 2004.

Are frilled sharks rare

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2 Where do these prehistoric sharks live?

The frilled shark lives 390 to 4,200 feet below the surface. Like other animals that live in deep water, this makes it much harder to find. Even though they live in many places around the world, their distribution seems "spotty." If you can swim deep enough, you might see the frilled shark in Suruga Bay in Japan, near the coasts of New Zealand and Australia, or in the Atlantic Ocean between Norway and Namibia.

Where do these prehistoric sharks live

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3 How big are frilled sharks?

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On average, they are between 3 and 5 feet long, but their bodies can grow up to 6.4 feet in length, with females being slightly longer. Scientists still have a lot to learn about the species, so they don't know how long they live, but they think a frilled shark’s lifespan could be up to 25 years.

How big are frilled sharks

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4 These rare sharks are very different from modern sharks

Compared to other sharks, the frilled shark is very different. It has more primitive traits and looks which is why it is labeled as a "living fossil". These sharks have long, thin bodies and snake-like heads. They don't swim very well and don't bite very hard either. Their teeth are probably the most distinct feature that sets them apart from all other shark species. They have a mouth full of trident-shaped teeth that point backward. Each tooth has three sharp points. This helps the animal grab and eat its prey when it lunges at it quickly.

These rare sharks are very different from modern sharks

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