Weird fish of the week: The Fangtooth

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Weird fish of the week: The Fangtooth

The depths of the world's oceans are full or strange, ugly and downright freakish-looking fish and this week's weird fish, Anoplogaster cornuta – commonly known as the Fangtooth or Ogre fish doesn't buck the trend!

It can't be much fun living down in the bathypalegic zone. For a start it's dark. Always. There's never a glimpse of daylight, so it's no surprise it's also known as the midnight zone.

If you do happen to see a flash of light in the darkness (and this is assuming evolution hasn't decided that eyes are a waste of time) then it's unlikely to be good news.

Yes, that twinkle in the blackness might be dinner, but it's just as likely to be some lurking toothed monstrosity looking for its next meal, which may well be you.

It's also cold and the water pressure would crush most creatures.

If you can't find another luckless deep sea denizen to snack on you're left relying on what rains down from the brighter surface waters, and let's be honest here, that's most likely to be either dead, or the end product of something else's digestive processes.

With all these limitations in mind, it's not surprising that this harsh environment has led to an increasingly outlandish array of adaptations in the arms-race between predator and prey.

The Fangtooth, as it's name suggests, has gone for dental overkill in the battle to grab some grub.

In comparison to its meagre size (they seldom top 15cm/6") these toothsome terrors have the largest teeth in the ocean. The fearsome fangs prevent the fish fully closing its jaws and the enormous lower jaw pair require special sockets in the skull to house them.

Face on they have a truly menacing appearance with their huge, blunt, bony, tooth filledhead (which makes up about a third of the fishes length) topped by a pair of bulbous, glassy looking eyes.

Their black body rapidly tapers away to the tail which in combination with vigorous pectoral fin use help provide the fish with a surprising turn of speed.

Unlike so many flabby deepwater predators which choose to save energy and hang around waiting for their next meal to come to them, Fangtooth are comparatively hyperactive hunters energetically pursuing their prey, which is largely made up of crustaceans and other smaller fish.

Check out the video which shows this (alongside some footage of more amazing deep sea creatures) below:

Schools of Fangtooth have been reported, but they are happy to hunt alone or in pairs.

They are relatively common, and distributed worldwide in tropical and temperate waters at depths of up to 5000m, but rising to as little as 200 metres at night to feed.

They are themselves prey for large pelagic fish species such as tuna and marlin. There is only one other known Fangtooth, Anoplogaster brachycera which is a smaller species, with a distribution limited to the tropical Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Why not take a look at some of our other Weird fish of the week features?

Barreleye 

Mega mouth shark

Flying gurnard

Pinecone fish

Slender snipe eel

Tripod fish

Lumpsucker

Ocean sunfish

Two-headed arowana

Stargazers

Giant oarfish

Kroyer's deep sea anglerfish

Halimeda ghost pipefish

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