Yes, This Stunning Creature Is A Shark

<p> <a class="checked-link" href="">kainita/flickr/cc by 2.0</a><span></span> </p>
<p> <a class="checked-link" href="">kainita/flickr/cc by 2.0</a><span></span> </p>

A rarely seen frilled shark has been captured off the coast of Australia, though he unfortunately did not survive for long outside the cold and deep water. The 6-foot-long fish with ruffly gills has caught flack for looking "horrifying" or like "'Jaws' on steroids," but those descriptors don't do justice to this serpentine marvel of marine biology.

He's been called "freaky," but if fish were capable of holding freak flags, these critters should feel free to wave theirs with all the sharky pride they muster. (Citron/Wikimedia/CC-BY-SA-3.0)

With 300 teeth set in 25 rows, these sharks are so-called living fossils whose frilly precursors date back about 80 million years. Though scientists have known about this species since the 19th century, it wasn't until 2004 when a shark swam by a camera in his natural habitat for the first time:

(Credit: NOAA/Wikimedia)

And, despite the decade since, much of the frilled shark's life - which takes place hundreds of feet below the ocean's surface - remains a mystery.

click to play video

Marine biologists do, however, have a few ideas about the creature's unusual teeth. The rows of spiky dentition aren't simply built for catching hold of squid, one shark expert tells Wired, but a shark could use them to lure prey toward his mouth. We may not think these fish are cute, but they know at least one thing about style: A toothy white smile pops in the dark, and makes us all want to come a little closer.

This post has been updated to include details of the shark's capture.