Anglerfish are stranger than you can image


Representatives of Anglerfish. Photo from Evolutionary history of anglerfishes. CC BY 2.0

Most people have seen pictures of the Anglerfish. These fish get their name from a modified ray with luminous flesh that they dangle to attract prey. These fish also look very scary with their strange shapes and long sharp teeth. However, none of these things come close to what really makes them strange. When scientist first started capturing these fish they noticed the female specimens had parasites attached to them. Turns out that in order to reproduce, males seek out and bite the females. They then release an enzyme which fuses the male to the female until the male is completely dependent on the female for nourishment. THe male even loses most of its organs in the union. In return, the male provides the female with sperm for reproduction. The male will remain attached to the female until she dies taking him with her.

For more general information on Anglerfish, visit the Wikipedia article. If you are looking for more insight into the evolutionary biology of this unusual fish, check out the research article on BioMed Central titled Evolutionary history of anglerfishes (Teleostei: Lophiiformes): a mitogenomic perspective.

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