Friday September 30, 2022


A new study, led by British Antarctic Survey and the University of Bristol, provides the first evidence that a controversial evolutionary process may be responsible for lanternfishes becoming one of the most diverse families of fish in the deep sea.

Lanternfish are small, bioluminescent—meaning they give off light—fishes, present in every ocean around the world. They live between the surface and 1,000 m deep within the so-called “twilight zone,” and in the Southern Ocean, they are a major consumer of krill—small, shrimp-like creatures—and are an important food source for king penguins and elephant seals.

There are around 250 species of lanternfish in the oceans, but scientists don’t know how this group of fishes came to be so diverse.

Typically, new species form after a population becomes geographically isolated—by a mountain range or waterway, for example. However, the ocean is vast and unchanging over large areas, and many marine animals can move freely over large distances. By studying lanternfish, researchers hope to understand more about diversity in the ocean.

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