Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Ugliest Creatures in the Ocean


The thing about the Earth’s vast oceans that constantly surprises us is the incredible variety of life that exists within them. However, in the deeps of the sea, amidst the beautiful fishes and sea dragons and turtles and dolphins, live some of the most terrifyingly bizarre creatures you’ll ever see – far weirder than anything you’re likely to find on land. The following are a handful of the weirdest of the weird!

Chimera, also known as ghost sharks or rabbitfish, are one of the oldest species of fish on the planet, having branched off from sharks nearly 400 million years ago. They live in deep water and use a venomous spine near their dorsal fin for defense.

The infamous viperfisfh is one of the most fierce predators in the deep sea. It is believed to lure its prey in with the light producing organ poised like a fishing rod at the end of its forsal spine. The viperfish’s teeth are so big, it wouldn’t be able to close its mouth if the teeth didn’t curve behind its head.

The pelican eel is a deep-sea fish that is rarely seen by humans. Its enormous mouth is much larger than its body. The loosely hinged jaw can open wide enough to swallow fish much larger than itself. Like the viperfish its tail glows pink and occasionally gives off bright red flashes.

With eyes on top of their heads and their large upward facing mouth, stargazers have a face only a mother could love. To catch prey, they bury themselves in the sand and leap upwards in ambush.

Grenadiers have large heads with huge eyes. Their thin bodies taper greatly into a rat-like tail.They like to live in structural oases, such as hydrothermal vents or shipwrecks

Fangtooth’s namesake teeth are so large they’ve evolved a pair of opposing sockets on either side of the brain to accomodate the teeth when the mouth is closed.

Oarfish look like giant silver ribbons floating through th sea. Mistaken by early sailors as sea serpents they can grow up to 36 feet! With no scales and hundreds of dorsal spikes up it’s back, its a truly fantastic fish.

Firefly squid, only grow to be about three inches, but these flashy fish can light up the sea! Each tenticle has a photophore, which produces a bright light, to attract prey. During mating season the firefly squid can light up its whole body like a Christmas tree.

No list of ugly fish would be complete without mention of the blobfish. This fleshy mass lives in depths of extreme sea-pressure and have little in the way of muscle. Their density is slightly less than water.

How could a shark be any more terrifying? What if you gave it a Richard Nixon nose and rows of thin needlelike teeth as jagged and uneven as a weed patch. That, my friend, is the goblin shark.

Just a tip, do not kiss a lizard fish. These spiky fish even have teeth on their tongues! It could probably be cast in Tim Burton’s Beetlegeuce.

Seemingly pulled out of a horror movie, hatchetfish are masters of cameoflage. Using bioluminscence they can make their bodies match the light intensity of the water surrounding them, making them invisible to predators and prey. Their large eyes can collect the faintest light allowing them to scope out food from great distances.

The winner of the cutest marine animal would go to the axolotl. Related to the tiger salamander, the only place on earth you can find these little guys is at Lake Xochimilco in Mexico.

Longhorn Cowfish. Git yer lasso and yer chaps pardner we’re gonna go rope us some cowfish! Unfortunately longhorn cowfish wouldn’t make good steak because they are extremely poisonous.

Don’t step on this stone! Stonefish hide in the sand and when they are stepped on or bumped into, their spines excrete horrible venom.

While the Wolf Fish has teeth like Edward Cullens, it probably isn’t getting too many dates. It’s powerful teeth crush its prey into edible pieces. These fish are incredibly aggressive and can injure divers and fishermen.

This little cutey, is a species of sea-cucumber known as scotoplanes, also called a sea-pig. They wallow around on the ocean floor extracting nutrients from the mud. Don’t you just want to cuddle with it? No? Me, neither.

You may need to change your pants after this  one. Lamprey are ancient parasites that have sucked the blood of fish for as long as their have been fish. Like giant leeches with razor teeth.

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