Remind me to steer clear of the deep sea 120 or so miles off the coast of Sydney.
While exploring the ocean floor for lobster larvae, an Australian ocean exploration ship found four ancient volcanoes.
But arguably even cooler than that, the ship came across a tiny, creepy-looking fish with translucent fangs and no scales. It was no bigger than a fingertip.
And as much fun as it would be to say the scaleless blackfish, as it’s labelled in the blog run by Australia’s government-run science agency, is an entirely new species of fish, it’s most likely not. It’s not even all that rare.
Biologist Tracey Sutton identified the tiny fish to Business Insider as a snaggletooth dragonfish. It’s one of many fish in the Astronesthes genus. Chris Kenaley, a biologist at Boston College confirmed the genus was Astronesthes.
“I doubt it’s new to science, but rather it’s probably one of the 10 or so species of the genus know from the area,” Kenaley said in an email to Business Insider. “Several of them are that size at maturity.”
To confirm if it was a new species, however, would require a more careful look under the microscope, both Sutton and Kenaley said.
Jon Moore, another biologist who works with Sutton studying fish in the Gulf of Mexico, added that there are 287 species within the same family as the dragonfish, which means there’s definitely the potential for more.
“Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be able to confirm or deny this is a new species based on just the photo, there are too many details that would need to be examined under a microscope,” he said in an email.
Dragonfish tend to live deeper in the ocean, which is why most people never come across them.
The creepy fish was discovered with several others, most of which were quickly identified as local commercial fish. The discovery of those fish was a bit surprising — researchers had previously thought that once larvae got swept so far away, into areas with less-than-ideal conditions, they were goners.
Little did they know, the larvae were thriving in their own eddies, small, circulating sections of water that typically move against the current. Here’s a shot the researchers took of their findings:
Judging by that image, provided by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the government-run science agency in Australia whose researchers made the discovery, the snaggletooth dragonfish is about an inch long. Sutton said the fish doesn’t get much bigger — most are similar in size to the minnow you’d find swimming around in a local lake.
“When you live in the deep ocean not much food around you can’t afford to miss a meal, and you gotta really get it,” Sutton said. “That means their teeth are out of proportion to their size.”
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