This Snake-Headed Shark Is So Scary Scientists Say It Inspired Ancient Sea Legends

Monday, 21 May 2018 - 11:41AM
Monday, 21 May 2018 - 11:41AM
This Snake-Headed Shark Is So Scary Scientists Say It Inspired Ancient Sea Legends
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Image credit: YouTube

If someone asked you what the scariest living breed of shark is (megalodons don't count, sorry Jason Statham), you'd probably go with the classics like the great white or the bull shark.

 

Sand tigers would be a close second—their babies actually eat each other in utero, that's some next-level savagery.

 

Those are all valid choices, but there is one more terrifying and much rarer breed that deserves to take the number one spot: the frilled shark.

 

Their almost eel-like appearance and the fact they've been swimming our oceans for more than 80 million years earns them frequent comparisons to prehistoric snakes, which is why they're also sometimes referred to as "living fossils."



And when you hear that they can grow to be six feet long, have rows upon rows of small, sharp, angled teeth, and have six red frilled gills on either side of its head, you don't have to wonder why.

 

No one wants to see massive Jaws teeth coming at them in the ocean, but the hundreds of tiny barbs gripping into your flesh from a frilled shark bite is the kind of nightmare that you didn't know you should be having.

 

Lucky for us, humans rarely encounter the creatures in the wild.

 

But just six months ago, some European Union researchers had an insane run-in with a frill shark; their findings reveal why the first men who wrote about their encounters with the fish were so utterly mesmerized, and terrified, of them.

 

"The teeth are constructed for grasping and from their peculiar shape and sharpness it would seem as if nothing that once came within their reach could escape them," naturalist/zoologist Samuel Garman recorded in a 19th-century description of the shark. "Even in the dead specimen the formidable three-pronged teeth make the mouth a troublesome one to explore."

 


And did we mention those teeth?

 

Biologist David A. Ebert of the Pacific Shark Research Center told Wired that he once got his finger caught in the mouth of a frilled shark specimen.

 

"You can only back out one way and that's in toward the mouth and then out...It didn't feel good, I can tell you that."

 

According to Discovery, frilled sharks have been found in the waters near southeast Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, West Africa, Chile, and the Caribbean, so you should just cross those destinations off the vacation wishlist right now.


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