Horrifying 'alien shark' with extendable jaws pulled from the depths of the ocean

Horrifying 'alien shark' with extendable jaws pulled from the depths of the ocean

When the movie Jaws aired in 1975, people thought they'd seen a glimpse at the worst possible creature the ocean had to offer. After all, what could be worse than a 30-foot carnivore with hundreds of teeth and a seemingly insatiable craving for human flesh?

Well, since then, we've discovered giant squid, seemingly immortal jellyfish, and - perhaps most terrifyingly - viper sharks.

Discovered in 1986, the creepy looking creatures have only been found a handful of times, and have proven to be quite difficult to track down. Recently, however, the Fisheries Research Institute in Taiwan found five specimens of viper shark just off the coast of the country at about 1150 feet below the ocean's surface.

And they're creepy as hell.

viper shark Credit: Taiwan Fisheries Research Institute

Because not many of the creatures have been caught in the past, there is very little understood about them. One of the most striking things that we do know, though, is that they have extendable jaws which snap in and out of their mouths in order to help them catch prey.

This alien-like adaptation allows them to swallow relatively large fish in just one gulp, and - even though they only reach about 20 inches in length - it's a feature that would make them a pretty nasty match for a human being.

However, as they're usually found deep beneath the surface in some of the coldest waters on Earth, it's not likely that the average person is ever going to come into contact with one. They also have a diet which consists mainly of crustaceans and bony fish - so a meaty human isn't anything like what they're used to.

viper shark Credit: Taiwan Fisheries Research Institute

In a description of the fearsome creatures, the Taiwan Fisheries Research Institute said, “The most obvious feature are the needle-shaped teeth, like snake-like fangs; this is also the origin of viper shark name.” It also mentions that the sharks, which are actually a species of dogfish, are bioluminescent.

This means that, like many creatures which dwell in the darker parts of the ocean, they have the ability to glow in the dark. This helps them attract their prey, and may also be used to signal other mates.

While they may be freaky looking, they do have a somewhat humorous quality to them in the fact they sort of resemble a child's drawing of a shark brought to life. Personally, I think they look like a mix between the bullet bills and chompers from the Super Mario games.

If you thought these were weird, you'll be fascinated by these pictures taken by a Russian fisherman who frequently stumbles across monstrous creatures while trawling for fish. Not only has he encountered several species with teeth, he's also found fish which look like spiders, eels with human-like noses, and one giant specimen which was bigger than a two-person canoe.

There's so much weird stuff just waiting to be discovered in the ocean's depths - so who knows what other terrifying things are lurking in the deep?