Monday, December 9

News About Anglerfish: Deep-Water Predators with an Odd Sex Life

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If you thought sharks were frightening, take a look at the anglerfish. Fortunately, they’re relatively small, and most of the time they live at the bottom of the ocean. But lately divers and researchers are coming across them more and more often, and what they’ve found out about elusive anglerfish is truly bizarre.

Scientists have been trying to find out more about anglerfish since the first specimen was found on the shores of Greenland in 1833. But recent videotapes by underwater explorers have shown just how odd these demonic-looking creatures really are.

Anglerfish are fish that eat other fish. Their predatory approach is to wait in ambush, to draw other fish in. Deep in the ocean, they dangle bioluminescent lures in front of their needlelike teeth. The lures are really rods of flesh that extend from their forehead. The rod tips can glow in yellow, green, blue-green, orange and purple colors; the anglerfish wiggle the tips to make them look like living bait.

Then they can open their mouths wide to devour their prey whole. Some can open their jaws and stomachs wide enough to trap fish that are larger than they are.

Fortunately, most anglerfish are smaller than a man’s fist, although one that was caught off West Africa was a foot-and-a-half long. And its glowing bait was actually inside its mouth.

The latest video of the anglerfish, taken half a mile down off the Horta in the Azores, captured the anglerfish’s sex life. The male anglerfish, which is much smaller than the female, fuses permanently to the female, and their tissues and circulatory systems commingle. Read more:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/29/science/anglerfish-bioluminescence-deep-sea.html

 

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