Friday, 7 August 2015

Alien of the Deep Has Needle-Sharp Teeth & a Shiny Head Lure

Lurking in the dark depths of the sea, a new species that looks more like an alien than a fish has been discovered, a creature with needlelike teeth and a glowing fishing pole of sorts atop its head.

Scientists spotted three females of the new species of anglerfish between 3,280 feet and nearly 5,000 feet (1,000 and 1,500 meters) beneath the Gulf of Mexico. The little fish, whose bodies ranged in length from 1.2 to 3.7 inches (30 to 95 millimeters), live under extreme conditions: No sunlight penetrates their deep habitats where they endure immense pressures of more than 2,200 pounds (1 ton) per square inch.

Now called Lasiognathus dinema, the anglerfish stood out from other species in its genus by the curved appendages jutting out from its so-called esca, or the organ at the tip of the "fishing rod" that contains light-producing bacteria. The species name dinema comes from the Greek words "di" for "two" and "nema" for "thread," referring to the threadlike extensions sprouting from the bases of the light organ's hooks, the researchers, Tracey Sutton of Nova Southeastern University in Florida and Theodore Pietsch of the University of Washington, write in the journal Copeia (published by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists). 

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