Fish | Anglerfish | the anglerfish, deep sea anglerfish, facts about anglerfish, anglerfish pictures, anglerfish reproduction, anglerfish photos, anglerfish mating - The angry-looking deep sea anglerfish has a right to be cranky. It is quite possibly the ugliest animal on the planet, and it lives in what is easily Earth's most inhospitable habitat: the lonely, lightless bottom of the sea. Anglerfishes are members of the teleost order Lophiiformes They are bony fishes named for their characteristic mode of predation, wherein a fleshy growth from the fish's head (the esca or illicium) acts as a lure; this is considered analogous to angling.
There are over 200 species of angler fish, most of whom live in the dark depths of the Atlantic and Antarctica, a mile below the surface, although some live in shallow environments, tropical. Usually dark gray to dark brown, with large heads and huge crescent-shaped mouth full of sharp teeth and transparent. Some anglers fish can be very large, reaching 3.3 feet (1 meter) long. Most, however, are much smaller, often less than one foot.
Some anglerfishes are pelagic (live in the open water), while others are benthic (bottom-dwelling). Some live in the deep sea (e.g., Ceratiidae) and others on the continental shelf (e.g., the frogfishes Antennariidae and the monkfish/goosefish Lophiidae). They occur worldwide. Pelagic forms are most laterally (sideways) compressed whereas the benthic forms are often extremely dorsoventrally compressed (depressed) often with large upward pointing mouths.
Their most distinctive feature, worn only by females, is a piece of dorsal spine that protrudes above their mouths like a fishing pole—hence their name. Tipped with a lure of luminous flesh this built-in rod baits prey close enough to be snatched. Anglerfish mouths are so big and their bodies so pliable, they can actually swallow prey up to twice their own size.
The male anglerfish, which is significantly smaller than the female anglerfish, has no need for such an adaptation. In lieu of continually seeking the vast abyss for a female anglerfish, it has evolved into a permanent parasitic mate. When a young anglerfish, free-swimming male angler encounters a female, he latches onto her with his sharp teeth. Over time, the male physically fuses with the female anglerfish, connecting to her skin and bloodstream and losing his eyes and all his internal organs except the testes. A female anglerfish will carry six or more males on her body.
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