In recognition of World Laughter Day we have some chuckles for you via six really strange marine creatures. Some of these you should be familiar with but others like the Goblin Shark are not common household names. Thank God!
Not Only on Halloween!
The Goblin Shark is possibly the most repulsive fish in the sea. It attacks its prey with a double row of retractable, snaggle-toothed jaws normally hidden below its snout.
The Goblin shark is not often encountered because it dwells in deeper waters, however researchers have described it as “one of the more mysterious and bizarre of all sharks.” (photo – Julian Finn/ Victoria Museum)
“Snaggly Whorl” of Teeth!
Why have sharks had most of the evolutionary fun? Probably because they have been around for so long with plenty of opportunity to diversify. One shark species that is no longer with us, having disappeared about 225 million years ago, had teeth that uniquely set it apart. Like other shark species the Helicoprion was continuously growing new teeth pushing the older teeth forward, however unlike other shark species it did not shed its older teeth. The result was a “snaggly whorl” of teeth and cartilage protruding from the front of its jaw, that could be up to 50 centimeters long. (photo – Jaime Chirino/Science Photo Library)
Sucking Up in the Great Lakes!
For decades we have heard of how lampreys have invaded North America’s Great Lakes causing serious ecological damage. But have you seen a lamprey up close and personal? Probably not and that’s a good thing. By the way, the lamprey has long been assumed to be an eel. That’s incorrect and for all of its reputation as an aggressive, invasive species, the lamprey is a very primitive fish. Lacking a jaw, its mouth resembles a flat, suction cup lined with rows of sharp teeth, that can bore into the flesh of its prey and suck its blood. Nice! (photo – John Cancalosi, Naturepl.com)
A Really Long Snout!
The paddlefish is native to the freshwater environments of Asia and North America growing up to 1.5 meters in length. However, a third of their length is a paddle-shaped snout, above a gaping mouth. In addition to being, a sensory organ that detects prey, the snout hoovers vast quantities of zooplankton into its awaiting maw. Having a huge mouth, however, does not insure paddlefish salvation for they are now endangered by over-fishing. Paddlefish roe has the misfortune of resembling caviar from sturgeons. (photo – Mark Conlin, seaPics.com)
The Narwhal which was known to ancient mariners as the sea unicorn, has a long spiral tusk, that makes the Narwhal distinctive from all other whale species. The function of the tusk, actually an elongated tooth, has long been debated.
We described what the latest consensus was on how the Narwhal uses its’ tusk in our article Narwhal News. (photo – Paul Nicklin/Nat Geo Creative)
Find out about the Billfish and read more about all six strange marine creatures in this article in New Scientist: 6 sea creatures with funny faces – and why they look so weird.
This article is a fun opportunity to open 2018, since we closed 2017 with our: Top Ocean Stories of 2017: Part 6, Amazing, Amusing and Astounding!
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
See These Top Ocean Stories of 2017:
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