A living fossil, belonging to the species of prehistoric frilled shark, was caught in a fishing trawler off Victorian waters in Australia. Mostly found in ocean depths below 400m, the prehistoric mammal is rarely sighted.

David Guillot, head of the trawler Western Alliance, was fishing near Lakes Entrance in Gippsland, when he pulled up the frilled shark. "I've been at sea for 30 years and I've never seen a shark look like that," Sydney Morning Herald quoted Guillot as saying.

The prehistoric creature, which looks part-eel, part-shark and shocked the fishermen, has been described as "hideous" by many. The terrifying marine mammal has an eel-like body with three fins on its back and six pairs of gill slits that gives it the fringed appearance.

"The head on it was like something out of a horror movie. It was quite horrific looking... It was quite scary actually," the trawlerman added.

The frilled shark, with its 300 needle-shaped teeth in 47 rows and an average length of six feet, is said to capture its prey by bending its body like a snake.

Great white shark
The great white sharkReuters

First described in 1884, the extendable jaws allow it to swallow preys – mostly squids and octopus – more than half its size. Like an eel, it is said to be capable of turning back on itself.

"I remember seeing one off Victoria a while ago...I know they occasionally see them at the surface, because a lot make vertical migrations at night time, as they follow prey up and down in the water column," said William White, research scientist at the Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO, adding that its eel-like swimming motion makes it quite unique among sharks. "It's certainly unusual and rare. I wouldn't call it hideous at all."