Prehistoric fish still swimming today

Scientists recently discovered a fossilized fish face at the bottom of a Chinese reservoir that’s believed to be 419 million years old. Making it the oldest known creature with a face (after Mick Jagger).

Rather impressive you’ll agree.

However it’s not quite as impressive as the prehistoric fish that are still around and having it large today. That’s right, the deadly meteor, or whatever it was, didn’t quite wipe out everything. So keep an eye out for this lot next time you’re out with your fishing gear.

Goblin Shark

goblin shark

Ridley Scott inspired nashers
Source: Environmental Graffiti

Anything named after a goblin is going to be a bit scary and the goblin shark doesn’t disappoint. Its translucent skin is a pinkish colour giving the shark a ghostly presence as it moves underwater.

Yet its weirdest feature is the set of teeth that are able to spring out of its mouth like some Ridley Scott sci-fi creation. The good news is that it swims at depths of over 4000 feet, so rarely comes into contact with human beings.

Hagfish

hagfish

The hagfish eats it’s victims inside out
Source: Helablog

There is something about the name, hagfish, that suggests this could be a fictional creature. And many wished this were the case when they learn of the gruesome feeding and defence mechanisms of this fish.

Also known as slime eels, hagfish produce large amounts of slime which turns into sticky goo when mixed with water and this can choke potential predators. When it comes to eating, hagfish attach themselves to their prey like a leech and gorge on their victims from the inside out. There’s 500 million years worth of bad manners for you.

Alligator gar

Alligator Gar

Now that’s a serious jaw!
Source: National Geographic Channel

Boasting a double-jawed arsenal of sharp teeth, thick-scaled armour and weighing in at up to 200 kilograms, the alligator gar hasn’t survived since the Cretaceous period because it looks pretty and barters well.

It’s a formidable predator and the largest freshwater fish in North America. Quite an achievement when you consider some of the big fish found around those parts.

Sturgeon

Sturgeon

A major source of caviar
Source: Wikimedia

The magnificent sturgeon is a survivor from the early Jurassic period, which is about 190 million years ago. With 25 known species (the biggest growing up to an incredible 6 metres) sturgeons are protected with bony plates called scutes, and bottom feed in both freshwater and at sea.

These fish pose no real danger except when they decide to leap out of the water and land on something, which usually gets crushed by their weight. Unfortunately for the sturgeon, it’s the main source for caviar, so it’s done well to survive alongside human beings for so long.

Coelacanth

Coelacanth

Coelacanth – nicknamed The Living Fossil
Source: The University of Chicago

Nicknamed the Living Fossil, as it was once considered extinct before popping up again in 1938, the coelacanth is perhaps the most famous of all living prehistoric fish. Its discovery in a fishing net in South Africa caused a worldwide sensation on par with finding a living dinosaur.

Growing up to 2 metres long, these large predators are found in deep, dark waters and feed on smaller fish, including sharks. They have very complex fin movements and almost appear to be running. No surprise then, that they’re considered by some to be the missing link between fish and amphibians.

Lancetfish

Lancetfish

A pesky nuisance to the fishing industry
Source: Fish Bio

With its abnormally large dorsal fin, which resembles a dinosaur sail, the lancetfish certainly looks prehistoric and its proper name – Alepisaurus Ferox – reinforces this as a fish with history.

Around since the Mesozoic era, this predator has a long streamlined body similar to a barracuda and six very sharp fang-like teeth. It is often caught by commercial fishermen by mistake and is regarded in this trade as being a nuisance.

Frilled Shark

frilled shark

Eats it’s prey like a snake
Source: It’s Nature

This one is a real beauty and one of the most primitive sharks alive being from the Cretaceous period, but is rarely seen in the wild due to dwelling in deep waters where it feeds on squid.

One of the most unusual looking creatures on the planet, the frilled shark has surely inspired many sea monster myths with its almost alien appearance. Its mouth has an incredible 25 rows of razor sharp hooked teeth (that’s 300 teeth in total) and it can extend its jaws to feed on prey almost half its size. It then digests them quite similar to how a snake does.