Featured Species: Frilled Shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus)

This week’s featured species is one of the spookiest looking sharks- just in time for Halloween: the Frilled Shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus). The frilled shark belongs to the Chlamyodoselachidae family, just one of three shark families that retain primitive characteristics: Hexanchidae (cow sharks), Heterodontidae (horn sharks) and Chlamyodoselachidae (frilled sharks) (Mojetta, 1997). The frilled shark is often referred to as a “living fossil.” With its elongated, snake-like body, 6 gill slits ending with frilly skin, and amphistylic jaw (where the upper jaw is braced against the cranium rather than floating like hyostylic jaw structures), the frilled shark is like no other living shark today, but more closely resembles prehistoric sharks (Mojetta, 1997).

Frilled shark in shallow water [Digital Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://thinglink.me/

Their teeth also resemble a more primitive type of shark called the caldodonts (Parker, 2008). These were some of the first sharks found in the fossil record, going all the way back to the Devonian period some 390 million years ago (Whitenack & Motta, 2010; Whitenack, Simkins, & Motta, 2011). These sharks had a large central cusp with 5 to 7 smaller lateral cusps (Cappetta, 1987).

Morphological terms used to describe cladodont teeth. Drawings based on Denaea cf. fournieri (ZPAL P.IV/221) from the upper Viséan of the Holy Cross Mts, Poland. Tips of lateral cusps on the mesial side restored. (Figure 1, Ginter & Hansen, 2010).


Frilled shark teeth are very similar. Their teeth have a large central cusp with smaller lateral cusps (Parker, 2008). They are arranged in 20 to 25 sets within the jaw, each set containing 5 teeth (Parker, 2008).

Frilled shark jaw [Digital Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fossilsonline.com/

Not much is known about the frilled shark. They spend most of their time in the depths of the ocean up to 4,000 feet (1219 m) below the surface (Tricas, et al., 1997). Much of what we know about the frilled shark is from those that become entangled in fishermen’s nets as bycatch. But most of their lives remains a mystery to us.

Discovery. (2013 August 8). Alien Sharks: The Frilled Shark [Video Clip]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/


I’m delighted to announce a partnership with the wonderfully talented Julius Csotonyi! Julius creates stunning shark coloring sheets that are fun and educational for all ages. From time to time you’ll see Julius’ work featured right here and on my other social media platforms! You can find more coloring sheets in the store! You are welcomed to download these beautiful sheets and enjoy them with family and friends.


Shark Stats

Authority: Garman, 1884

Family: Chlamydoselachidae, 2 species

Length: Maximum of 6.4 feet (1.95 m)

Weight: Not recorded

Habitat: Continental shelves and slopes

Depth: Observed rarely at the surface; typically 330 to 4,260 ft (100 to 1,300 m)

Reproduction: Ovoviviparous

Gestation: Unknown; possibly as long as 3 years

Litter Range: 6 – 12 pups

Home Range: Patchy worldwide in tropical and temperate waters

Diet: Fishes and squid

IUCN Status: Near Threatened; population status is unknown; sometimes taken as bycatch in commercial fisheries

(Smart, Paul, & Fowler, 2016; Parker, 2008; Skomal, 2016)

Hope you enjoyed one of the oddest looking sharks this week! If you missed last week’s Featured Species be sure to check out the Porbeagle shark. If you’d like to see a particular species featured, let me know by leaving me a comment!

The new Ocean For Sharks Shop is open! There’s handmade ocean inspired plush animals, canvas paintings, and of course my children’s book, Winifred the Wondrous Whale Shark, available in print and PDF. Be sure to stop by. Remember proceeds benefit shark research and conservation with a donation to Project AWARE!

Remember you can make a difference for marine ecosystems by calling your Congress man or woman and tell them that you care about the quality of our waters! Sharks, rays, and other marine organisms cannot speak or be represented in Congress. They need your voice. Get involved and stand up for sharks. Until next time finatics!


Featured Image Source

Frilled shark swims at Japan’s Awashima Marine Park [Digital Image]. (2007, January 21). Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/01/photogalleries/frilled-shark/index.html

Literature Cited

Cappetta, H. (1987). Handbook of Paleoichthyology, Vol. 3B: Chondrichthyes II. Mesozoic and Cenozoic Elasmobranchii: Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stutgart.

Mojetta, A. (1997). Sharks: History and biology of the lords of the sea. (E. McNulty, Ed.). San Diego: Thunder Bay Press.

Parker, S. (2008). The encyclopedia of sharks (2nd ed.). Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books Ltd.

Skomal, G. (2016). The Shark Handbook: The Essential Guide for Understanding the Sharks of the World. (2nd ed.). Kennebunkport, ME: Cider Mill Press.

Smart, J.J., Paul, L.J. & Fowler, S.L. 2016. Chlamydoselachus anguineus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41794A68617785. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T41794A68617785.en

Tricas, T. C., Deacon, K., Last, P., McCosker, J. E., Walker, T. I., & Taylor, L. (1997). The Nature Company Guides: Sharks and Rays. (L. Taylor, Ed.). Hong Kong: The Nature Company, Time Life Books.

Whitenack, L. B., & Motta, P. J. (2010). Performance of shark teeth during puncture and draw: Implications for the mechanics of cutting. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 100(2), 271–286.

Whitenack, L. B., Simkins, D. C., & Motta, P. J. (2011). Biology meets engineering: The structural mechanics of fossil and extant shark teeth. Journal of Morphology, 272(2), 169–179.

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Featured Species: Zebra Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum)

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Featured Species: Porbeagle Shark (Lamna nasus)


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