Surfing The Wierd

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Anglerfish-New Species

PHOTO IN THE NEWS: Flat-Faced Crawling Fish Discovered

ugly new crawling fish species photo

April 3, 2008—After countless centuries, this odd anglerfish (right) may finally be ready for its close-up.

Discovered in Indonesia in January, the species has forward-looking eyes like a human and crawls rather than swims.

These and other traits suggest the fist-size animal may represent a new family of fishes, University of Washington fish expert Ted Pietsch announced on April 2, when this photo was released. DNA tests are needed for confirmation.

Pietsch first learned of the unnamed species from dive-facility operators on Ambon island, Indonesia. "I knew it had to be an anglerfish because of the leglike pectoral fins on its sides," he said in a statement.

But the new species lacks the trademark forehead "lure" that other anglerfish use to attract prey.

The fish's forward-facing eyes seem to be a first, even to Pietsch, a 40-year veteran of fish research.

The fish's knack for squeezing into coral crevices may explain why it's escaped notice until now—a low profile that isn't likely to last.

"Seeking out these fish is probably going to be like the holy grail of divers for a while," Ambon Island-based dive operator Randolph Shorten said in a statement.

(Related photos: "Giant, Unknown Animals Found off Antarctica" [March 28, 2008].)

—Ted Chamberlain

Photograph by M. Snyder/, courtesy University of Washington >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Lophius piscatorius

Photo: A close-up of an anglerfish
Close-up of an anglerfish
Photograph by Bruce Robison/Corbis

Anglerfish Profile

The angry-looking deep sea anglerfish has a right to be cranky. It is quite possibly the ugliest animal on the planet, and it lives in what is easily Earth's most inhospitable habitat: the lonely, lightless bottom of the sea. There are more than 200 species of anglerfish, most of which live in the murky depths of the Atlantic and Antarctic oceans, up to a mile below the surface, although some live in shallow, tropical environments. Generally dark gray to dark brown in color, they have huge heads and enormous crescent-shaped mouths filled with sharp, translucent teeth. Some angler fish can be quite large, reaching 3.3 feet (1 meter) in length. Most however are significantly smaller, often less than a foot. Their most distinctive feature, worn only by females, is a piece of dorsal spine that protrudes above their mouths like a fishing pole—hence their name. Tipped with a lure of luminous flesh this built-in rod baits prey close enough to be snatched. Their mouths are so big and their bodies so pliable, they can actually swallow prey up to twice their own size. The male, which is significantly smaller than the female, has no need for such an adaptation. In lieu of continually seeking the vast abyss for a female, it has evolved into a permanent parasitic mate. When a young, free-swimming male angler encounters a female, he latches onto her with his sharp teeth. Over time, the male physically fuses with the female, connecting to her skin and bloodstream and losing his eyes and all his internal organs except the testes. A female will carry six or more males on her body.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home