‘Sea Monster’ Caught in Australia

SCIENCE

Frilled sharks are rarely seen denizens of the deep that resemble their dinosaur-era ancestors. (National Geographic News)

Use our resources to learn more about some dinosaur-era “Sea Monsters.”

Teachers, scroll down for a coloring page and a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

This gorgeous (stuffed!) frilled shark is housed at an aquarium in Paris, France. These reclusive fish are rarely spotted and even more rarely photographed this well! Photograph by Citron / CC-BY-SA-3.0 (courtesy Wikimedia)

This gorgeous (stuffed!) frilled shark is housed at an aquarium in Paris, France. These reclusive fish are rarely spotted and even more rarely photographed this well!
Photograph by Citron / CC-BY-SA-3.0 (courtesy Wikimedia)

Discussion Ideas

 

Click to enlarge! Photograph by Citron / CC-BY-SA-3.0 (courtesy Wikimedia)

Click to enlarge!
Photograph by Citron / CC-BY-SA-3.0 (courtesy Wikimedia)

  • Offer some evidence about the frilled shark, based on the photo and the Nat Geo News article.
    • Some pieces of evidence based on the photo might include:
      • The frilled shark has a long, thin body.
      • The frilled shark has rows of sharp, backward-facing teeth.
      • The frilled shark does not have a triangle-shaped dorsal fin rising from its back, like many other sharks.
      • The frilled shark does not have a fan-shaped tail, like many other sharks.
    • Some pieces of evidence based on the article might include:
      • A frilled shark was caught in the resort town of Lake Entrance, Victoria, Australia.
      • The Australian frilled shark was about 2 meters (6 feet) long.
      • The frilled shark is rarely spotted and even more rarely caught.
      • The frilled shark lives in the mid-to-deep ocean.
  • Based on the evidence you’ve presented about the frilled shark, make some inferences.
    • Why do you think the shark has backward-facing teeth?
    • Why do you think the fish is called the frilled shark?
      • The “frills” are its long gill slits, which stretch across the fish’s throat.
      • Another possible inference might be that the frilled shark was named for its frills of teeth. This is a reasonable inference based on the evidence available (photo and article), but acquiring more evidence would prove this inference to be wrong.
    • Do you think the frilled shark is indigenous to Australia?
      • It is. The fact that the shark is rarely spotted, and many of the spottings have happened in Australia make this a good inference. Frilled sharks are actually thought to be indigenous in pockets of coastal areas throughout the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
    • Do you think the frilled shark is an endangered species?
      • It isn’t. The IUCN lists the frilled shark as “near threatened,” which is not an endangered category. There just seem to be a naturally small number of the fish, possibly—here’s an inference—due to their long gestation period and few offspring. (Scientists think the frilled shark may have the longest gestation period of any vertebrate—three-and-a-half years!)
      • Another possible inference might be that the frilled shark is endangered because it’s such an unusual thing to catch. This is a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence available (photo and article), but acquiring more evidence would prove this inference to be wrong.

 

 

This illustration was made by Samuel Garman, the American zoologist who made the first recorded analysis of the frilled shark, studied off the coast of Japan in 1884. It makes for a great coloring page! Illustration by Samuel Garman, "An Extraordinary Shark" in Bulletin of the Essex Institute v. 16: 47-55 (1884)

Isn’t this a great coloring page?!
This illustration was made by Samuel Garman, the American zoologist who made the first recorded analysis of the frilled shark, studied off the coast of Japan in 1884. The two drawings on top of the fish’s body are views from above (left) and below (right) the head, showing its long gill slits. The doodles at the bottom left are drawings of the frilled shark’s teeth!
Illustration by Samuel Garman, “An Extraordinary Shark” in Bulletin of the Essex Institute v. 16: 47-55 (1884)

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: Rare Shark That Inspired Sea Monster Myths Is Caught

Nat Geo: Unpack the Evidence: What are evidence and inference?

Wikipedia: Featured articles (best of the best)

U.S. Census: Find a Public Library

Association of Zoos and Aquariums: Find an AZA-Accredited Zoo or Aquarium

Google Scholar

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Fish and Wildlife in Your State

2 responses to “‘Sea Monster’ Caught in Australia

  1. Pingback: Sharks Crowd Florida Coast | Nat Geo Education Blog·

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