Underdogs of the Animal World: Anglerfish

So you’ve all seen Finding Nemo, right? Of course. Now, remember that scary, toothy fish with the light bulb on its head? That’s an Anglerfish. Pretty freaky huh? Well, the anglerfish might not be everyone’s favourite Kardashian, but it’s got a lot of cool stuff going on.

Once upon time, scientists thought that all anglerfish were girls. The anglerfish you know and love, with the light and the teeth and the grrr-ness? Yeah, that’s a she. She’s also known as the ‘common black devil,’ which isn’t very nice, but kids can be cruel and it stuck. There ARE male anglerfish, don’t worry about her love life, it’s coming, but right now it’s all about her.

So the antennae on its head isn’t actually a light bulb, though it works kind of like one. Anglerfish like to get low. Imagine you’re chilling on the ocean floor and you’ve lost your cell phone. It’s pretty dark down there, how are you gonna find it? If you said ‘Call it, duh!’ then you’d be right, but an anglerfish might do something awesome with bacteria. The light bulb is a bioluminescent lure, which contains bacteria that go all glowy and blue. The anglerfish also has special skin which absorbs blue light, so at the bottom of the sea, she’s invisible.

But why have a random, blue, bacteria stick on your head? Well the lady anglerfish is pretty lazy, she doesn’t wanna be swimming around, hunting down her dinner like in olden times, she wants it delivered, hence the cell phone. Scratch that, ignore the cell phone. There is no cell phone, OK?

So she’s sitting there, in the dark thinking ‘I could really go for a burger right now or whatever I eat’ and along comes a little fish. ‘Oooh, shiny!’ says the fish, seeing nothing but a swaying blue light, ‘A pretty light like that is not at all out of place and suspicious at the bottom of the ocean, that would make an excellent addition to my salon.’ Did I mention that this particular fish is a distant relation of Andre Leon Talley? No? Well he is.

So the fabulous fish swims towards the light and SNAP! He’s a goner. The lady anglerfish has jaws like a mousetrap, the teensiest movement and they snap shut on dinner. She can also extend her jaws and stomach to twice their size. That’s a lot of takeaway. So she basically sits and eats, sits and eats, maybe watches some Breaking Bad, thinks about taking up Krav Maga, but decides to leave it until New Years, because she’s not really fit enough yet and next year she’s gonna start running again, plus donuts. DONUTS. I think, in our heart of hearts, we are all anglerfish.

So the menfolk. These are the ones you should be feeling sorry for. Henry Cavill they ain’t. A male is born small and hungry and probably quite depressed about it all, BUT he does have an epic sense of smell, which lets him smell his soul mate from miles away. Unlike his beloved, he has a swimmers body, which is basically all he does, apart from thinking about how hungry he is and how great everything will be once he finds this lady that smells So. Damn. Good. ‘Seriously, what is that smell? It’s like burgers and pizza and donuts and all that is right with the world. I love her. I LOVE her.’ There’s no OkCupid down there, OK? Give the guy a break.

But they meet and she smells just as good in real life, and they live happily ever after, right? Uh, no. Once the male finds the female, he’ll take a bite, (different strokes for different folks) and then he’ll feel his face begin to melt. Yeah. The male anglerfish will pretty much be absorbed into the female, all of him apart from his man bits, which she needs to make babies. And who says romance is dead? What makes this even worse is that the female can have up to six men latched on to her. So you might rock up to the sexy scented lady you’ve been hankering after your whole life and she’s taken. Five times. But yay, absorption!

When the lady anglerfish decides that her baby clock is ticking, she’ll choose some sperm that she has hanging around, lay a gelatinous sheet, which will float through the ocean until the eggs hatch.

Baby anglerfish are actually adorable, treading an awesome line between unicorn and Pokemon. But once they reach maturity, they’ll make their way to the depths, ready to hang around, glow a bit, eat pizza (or whatever) and digest some men.

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