frilled shark
The "horrific" frilled shark was caught off the coast of VictoriaSetfia

A "horrific" looking prehistoric shark measuring around two metres in length has been caught off the coast of Australia.

The frilled shark - Chlamydoselachus anguineus – is often referred to as a "living fossil". It dates back 80 million years and has retained many of its primitive features.

It has a dark brown eel-like body with its dorsal, pelvic, and anal fins placed far back. It captures its prey by bending its body and lunging forward like a snake. Its long and extremely flexible jaw – containing 300 needle-sharp teeth in 25 rows – allows it to swallow its prey whole.

The shark also has six pairs of frill-like gill slits, which is where it gets its name from.

Despite being widely distributed in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the creature of the deep is rarely caught.

David Guillot, skipper of the trawler Western Alliance, was fishing in waters off south-eastern Victoria about 1km deep when he hauled in the shark.

frilled shark
The shark was about 1.5m long and tried to attack one of the deck handsSetfia

"I've been at sea for 30 years and I've never seen a shark look like that," he told the radio station 3AW. "It was like a large eel, probably 1.5 metres long, and the body was quite different to any other shark I'd ever seen.

"The head on it was like something out of a horror movie. It was quite horrific looking ... It was quite scary actually."

The frilled shark also tried to attack another fisherman after being reeled in: "When one of the deckhands went to pick it up by its tail, its ability to turn back on itself quite sharply was something I hadn't seen before either.

"I've caught a lot of sharks in my life, but it seemed like it was really looking at you and quite aggressively going for you."

Simon Boag, from the South East Trawl Fishing Association, said it was the first specimen to be caught in these waters for generations: "It does look 80 million years old. It looks prehistoric, it looks like it's from another time," he told ABC.