Thursday April 18, 2024


Anglerfish first colonized the ocean’s midnight zone 55 million years ago, during a period of extreme global warming, a new study finds. The bizarre fish adapted to thrive in the deep sea by becoming sexual parasites, the researchers said.

These fish, in the order Lophiiformes, are among the most diverse vertebrate groups in the deep sea, having assumed a myriad of forms. Among their most recognizable features are their bioluminescent lures. The light from these dangling organs entices prey, drawing them within inches of a nightmarish array of needle-like teeth.

Many anglerfish species patrol the benthic, or seafloor, zone, ranging from the near shore to depths of thousands of feet. They walk along the bottom using modified fins that resemble legs. But others live in deep open water of the bathypelagic, or midnight zone, 3,000 to 13,000 feet (900 to 4,000 meters) below the surface.

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