frilled shark

This rare frilled shark was caught in the nets of an Australian fishing trawler. Handout photo from South East Trawl Fishing Association

A scary-looking and rarely seen sea creature called a frilled shark was caught in the nets of a fishing trawler last week in waters off the Australian town of Lakes Entrance in Gippsland, Victoria, sparking talk among fishermen about the last time one of these rare creatures had been seen.

"We couldn't find a fisherman who had ever seen one before," Simon Boag of the South East Trawl Fishing Association, told Australian Broadcasting Co.

"It looks prehistoric; it looks like it's from another time."

Indeed, the frilled shark has a long history. Its ancestry dates back 80 million years, so it is often referred to as the living fossil. It features a dark brown, eel-like body that grows up to 6.6 feet long, a shark-like tail, and a mouth full of teeth.

frilled shark

The frilled shark has 25 rows of teeth that number 300. Photo handout from South East Trawl Fishing Association

frilled shark

The shark has been found as deep as 4,900 feet. Photo handout from South East Trawl Fishing Association

"It has 300 teeth over 25 rows, so once you're in that mouth, you're not coming out," Boag told ABC. "Good for dentists, but it is a freaky thing. I don't think you would want to show it to little children before they went to bed."

The frilled shark is so named for the frilly appearance of six pairs of long gill slits.

 frilled shark

The shark grows up to 6.6 feet in length. Photo handout by South East Trawl Fishing Association

Boag told ABC that the frilled shark was caught at 2,297 feet. The species has been found as deep as 4,900 feet but generally lives in waters shallower than 3,900 feet.

The frilled shark was offered to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which identified the bizarre catch, but it declined to take it.

The ABC reported that the frilled shark is believed to have been sold.

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