Frilled shark - Chlamydoselachus anguineus


Illustrations © Marc Dando

This shark has an elongated eel-shaped body, and a flattened snake-like head with a very short snout and a large terminal mouth. It has six pairs of curved gill slits, with the lower ends of the first pair connected under its throat. Its dorsal fin is low and much smaller than the anal fin. Its pectoral fins are smaller than its pelvic fins.

Dark chocolate-brown, brownish-grey, or brownish-black.

The shark is about 1.3 ft [39 cm] long when it is born. Males mature at 3 to5.3 ft [92 to163 cm] and females mature at 4.3 to4.4 ft [130 to135 cm]. Its maximum length is 6.4 ft [196 cm].

Widely spaced, needle-sharp, slender three-cusped teeth.

Benthic, epibenthic and pelagic. These sharks frequent off-shore shelves and upper continental and island slopes of 164 to 4921.3 ft [50 to1500 m] deep, but are occasionally located at the surface.

Widely but patchily distributed world-wide, rare to uncommon, usually in deep water.


  • Prey – Deepwater actively-swimming squid and fishes. Pups in a litter may feed on huge uterine eggs 4.3-4.7 inches [11-12 cm] long.

  • Reproduction – Ovoviviparous, with 6-12 pups per litter. Pregnant females have very large abdomens. They may reproduce all year in deep water, but mate in the spring off of Japan. Their gestation period is probably long (1-2 years).

In captivity, they have a habit of swimming with the mouth open and it may be that their conspicuous white teeth are used to lure prey.

They are often the bycatch of deep bottom trawls and gillnets, and are utilized for fishmeal and meat. They are occasionally kept in aquaria, and are harmless to man.