Monday, January 29, 2007

Animal of the Week January 29, 2007 -- Freaky freak shark sighting

Hooray, hooray, it's ANIMAL DAY!!

This week's animal is inspired by a rare sighting of a beast washed up from the briny depths: Chlamydoselachus anguineus (frilled shark), which was spotted in the Awashima marine park in Japan a week ago.

Fishermen reported having caught an eel-like creature with razor-sharp teeth, so rarely are these seen in surface waters they had no clue what it was. The shark died a few hours after being identified. Frilled sharks typically live at 120 m to 1280 m down and feed on squid, other sharks, and deep-sea fish. The individual sighted was likely ill, hence the death, and disoriented.
Their fierce looking W shaped teeth are, like those of all sharks, replaced from behind in a continuous conveyer belt of piscine death. Although at only 2 m in length (and at 120 m below the surface) humans have little to fear. Also like many other sharks, they are oviviparous—their eggs incubate and then hatch internally right before the pups are born, they have 2–12 pups at a time.

One of the oddities of the shark world, the one species of frilled shark (or possibly two if the advocates of the South African frilled shark as a species are correct) is in a family all of it's own, in a group comprising the most primitive sharks—the six-gill sharks. Although frilled sharks are that different from the others in this group that they may be even more isolated on the shark family tree.

And why is this cartilaginous monstrosity called a frilled shark? I hear you ask. Because it's gill tissue pokes out of the gill slits, like a herniated lung. Gross.

And look: more you tube


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