Weird Ones | The Frilled shark
Here’s what several million years of evolution can do to you. Fossils show that the frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus) has been around in one form or another for 150 million years
Brown-grey body with dorsal and anal fin, round pectoral fins and six pairs of gill slits. Its long, streamlined body is eel-like in appearance, but its most recognisable feature is its teeth, each of which has three cusps.
Grows to a maximum length of 2m.
A deep-water shark, the frilled shark is found at depths of between 100 and 1,300m. Most specimens have been found off Japan, but they also occupy various locations in the Pacific as well as the eastern Atlantic and western Indian Ocean.
It wasn’t until the Cretaceous period some 95 million years ago that the frilled shark developed its curious tricuspid teeth. These teeth have become extremely effective at capturing the various cephalopods on which the frilled shark feeds.
The fish is named after the flaps of skin surrounding its six gills, which are frilly in shape and give it a reptilian appearance – it’s certainly not a looker. But looks aren’t everything, and the fact that the species has survived for so long is testament to the remarkable adaptations that have allowed the frilled shark to survive millions of years in the harsh conditions of the deep sea – it truly is a survivor.