A fisherman in Australia (of course, it’s Australia) just pulled the severed head of a mako shark from the deep blue waters of New South Wales.
Trapman Bermagui, aka Jason, a commercial angler based on the south coast of New South Wales, posted a photo of the catch on Facebook and thousands of "armchair marine biologists" have weighed in with their theories of what caused the strange occurrence.
“Unfortunately we didn't see what ate it but must [have] been impressive,” Bermagui wrote. “Hoping to catch smaller sharks but just hooked big sharks that got eaten by bigger sharks again.
“When I thought I’d seen it all, we cut about 35 kilograms [77 pounds] of meat off the mako head and discovered it had a marlin bill embedded in its head.”
Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be the work of a prehistoric megalodon or any other colossal creature of the deep. Some experts think the mako shark was probably not decapitated in one big chomp by a giant predator. Instead, it's likely that multiple sharks took multiple little chunks out of the body until it fell apart, leaving just the head attached to the angler's line.
"Even a huge great white shark wouldn't cut a large mako in two pieces in one bite," Johann Mourier, shark scientist and behavioral ecologist at UMR MARBEC in France, told IFLScience.
"In the picture, we can see that there were multiple bites, although it seems that the bites are still big... [It] seems to be a big shark with multiple bites [from] multiple sharks."
While the photo might employ a slight bit of perspective trickery to make the head appear larger, mako sharks are not a small species of shark. They can grow up to 3.2 meters (~10 feet) from tip to tail.
"The guy is standing in the background with the remaining head of the mako in the front, which gives the impression that the mako is really huge," Mourier added. "It still seems to be a large shark though."
Known as the “cheetahs of the ocean”, makos are also the world’s fastest-swimming sharks, capable of swimming in bursts at up to 68 kilometers (42 miles) per hour. They are also known to be extremely agile creatures, often entertaining fishermen with acrobatic flips and giant leaps out of the water. This incredible speed is possible, in part, thanks to their aerodynamic skin that’s covered in thousands of tiny microstructures. The skin is so well adapted that scientists have said it could be used to inspire the wings of fighter jets.