Deep in the ocean lives a ghastly fish with huge and menacing fang-like teeth.

The aptly named flock fish (The cornuta anoplogaster) – sometimes referred to by his nickname “ogrefish” – lives in deep waters around the world, ranging from 650 to 6,500 feet, although the species has been observed up to 16,000 feet. This makes it one of the deepest living fish.

A close-up of the tusk fish, or ogrefish. This species is one of the deepest living fish known to science.
© 2022 DEEPEND-RESTORE / Danté Fenolio

While fluffy fish sometimes emerge close to the surface at night to feed, they typically spend time in waters deeper than 1,300 feet in the open ocean offshore, according to Tracey Sutton, a professor at the Guy Harvey Oceanographic Center at Nova Southeastern University of Florida.

“One species is truly a child of the Earth, found in all seas except the polar,” said Sutton Newsweek.

The flock fish is rarely seen by humans – the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, for example, noticed this creature less than 10 times in about 30 years of conducting deepwater expeditions with remote-controlled vehicles. However, this does not necessarily mean that the fish is really rare.

“It covers almost the entire global depth of the ocean, so the total number may actually be stunningly high – although it is a loner, it does not appear in groups and therefore does not occur in any particular place,” said Sutton.

While there is only one confirmed species in this family, the other has been described as a juvenile but has never been collected as an adult, according to Sutton. Fangtooth fish have no known close relatives.

Despite its small size – the common hair coat can be about 6 to 7 inches long – the characteristic features of this species are the “huge” head and teeth in relation to the rest of the body.

This fish’s mouth is full of long, pointed teeth – including two sets of large tusks on the lower and upper jaws – that allow it to catch and hold onto prey of many different sizes, which is a beneficial adaptation in the deep sea where food can be difficult to come by .

Tusk fish in the deep ocean
Fluffy fish spotted approximately 2,600 feet below the surface. In proportion to the body size, the teeth of this species are larger than those of any other marine species.
NOAA ocean exploration

Common gourds are usually more active than many other deep-sea fish, and they search for food by heading to the surface at night – rather than lying down and waiting for prey like other ambush predators who may use a variety of luring techniques.

The common ear’s diet includes other fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods – a group of animals that includes octopus, squid, and cuttlefish.

As the coat approaches the victim, the fish opens its huge mouth and sucks the hapless victim inside.

“They’re voracious – they seem to eat anything that can fit in their mouths,” said Sutton.

A composite image of two Fangtooth fishes
A composite image of two truss fish. These animals grow to about seven inches in length.
© 2022 DEEPEND-RESTORE / Danté Fenolio

According to the Smithsonian Institution, the teeth of this species are larger in proportion to body size than any other marine species. In fact, they are so large that the fish has special pouches on the palate to hold the tusks on the lower jaw when the mouth is closed.

The species has relatively poor eyesight, but to compensate for this, as well as poor lighting in the water it lives in, the tusk canine has an extremely pronounced lateral line – a sensory system found in fish and aquatic amphibians – that helps it sense movement and vibration in the surrounding water .

The face of a whirlwind fish
Close up of a fangtooth fish face. These animals live in deep sea waters all over the world.

“He has a complex nervous system on his head. In a way, he “listens” with his face, Sutton said.

According to Sutton, this nervous system is the “front end” of the collateral system. This explains the heavy “carving” on the front of the fangs’ face seen in the image above.

The common cloud is dark brown to black in color, which helps the fish to camouflage in the ocean depths, which is helpful in catching prey or avoiding predators. His body is also covered with thorny scales and spines.

Juvenile flock fish
Juvenile flocculent fish with a typical coloration. While adult canines are usually uniformly black or dark brown in color and have huge canines, juveniles are usually light gray with smaller teeth.
© 2022 DEEPEND-RESTORE / Danté Fenolio

Because they live so low, scientists know little about their living and reproductive habits, but the flocs reproduce through external fertilization – the process by which females lay eggs while males release sperm into the water to fertilize them.

Fish don’t have many predators, but the animals that hunt them include tuna and marlin. While fangtooth fish live far from human civilization, they still face several man-made threats.

For example, deepwater mining and fossil fuel exploration can cause “catastrophic” damage to deepwater ecosystems – as happened after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – according to Sutton.

“Fisheries are also extending to deep pelagic waters (neither near the bottom nor near the shore) as coastal fishing is depleted,” Sutton said. “Finally, climate change is projected to alter the ocean circulation, which is expected to reduce the number of pelagic species.”

The flock fish is one of the millions of species living in the ocean depths, most of which have never been seen or described by humans. Among these strange and wonderful deep sea creatures are vampire squid, octopus dumbo and jelly with a bloody belly.

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