It has been a good few millennia, sure, but our love affair may have been a little rushed. After all, what do we really know about the ocean? Roughly 95 percent of it remains unexplored, and it seems as if every other day we’re finding out something new and unsettling
The frilled shark is one of the oldest living species on the planet.
Maybe it’s time we Homo sapiens re-evaluated our relationship with the oceans of the world.
It has been a good few millennia, sure, but our love affair may have been a little rushed. After all, what do we really know about the ocean? Roughly 95 per cent of it remains unexplored, and it seems as if every other day we’re finding out something new and unsettling.
“Prehistoric, Dinosaur-Era Shark With Insane Teeth Found Swimming Off Coast of Portugal”
Instead, they ended up capturing one of the rarest and most ancient creatures on the planet, one that may have inspired 19th-century tales of “sea serpents”.
A similar shark caught off the coast of Australia.
What those sailors didn’t know was that the frilled shark has looked pretty much the same since the break-up of Pangea. Mainly, that look is horrifying.
The largest can grow two metres – the size of a tall man. The shark is named after its gills, which have frilly, fluffy edges, but the cuddly factor ends abruptly there.
Inside its short-snouted head are 300 more reasons to never go further than the beach: hundreds of needle-sharp teeth, neatly lined in 25 rows.
It uses quick lunges to sink those teeth into other sharks, fish, octopuses and squid.
Humans know very little about the frilled shark because it lives deep in the ocean, off the coasts of Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
In its 80 million years on the planet, it has rarely come into contact with humans or been seen or filmed in its natural habitat. Clearly freaked-out 19th-century sailors were the first to write about it.
The frilled fish has a remarkably simple anatomy, probably because of a lack of nutrients in its aquatic environment. But there’s no definitive answer about why it outlived its Cretaceous Period contemporaries.
So for now, it remains one of those increasingly frequent reminders that some of the creepiest beings in existence are floating beneath what appears to be a serene ocean surface.
From time to time, scientists will set out to see what’s swimming around in unexplored regions of the sea, then use the internet to show the world what got tangled up in their nets.
For example, earlier this year, an international team of scientists sponsored by Australian museums pulled up some creatures from more than three kilometres beneath the ocean. They wanted to see what kind of animals live where there is perpetual darkness, crushing pressure and inhospitable temperatures.
They found things like a red crab covered in dozens of thorny spikes. And they discovered a coffinfish, a blue-eyed, red-finned trickster that uses “a fishing rod tipped with a fluffy bait on top of its head” to lure prey close enough to snag.
So, yes, maybe the beach is the safest place until we know more about what’s swimming around in the great beyond.
On second thought, even that may be too close.!