Deep beneath the glittering surface of the sea, there lies a world entirely untouched and unseen by humans, an alien realm inhabited by all manner of strange and wonderful fish. The dumbo octopus, for example, is every bit as adorable as its name suggests. The palm-sized mollusk’s head features ear-like fins, giving it the appearance of a tiny aquatic elephant.
Then there’s the bloody-belly comb jelly, whose name might be terrifying but whose appearance is utterly mesmerizing. The unique ctenophore sparkles as it swims, the fluorescent constellations illuminating its body serving the dual purpose of beauty and protection.
Each and every one of the fish dwelling in the deep, dark reaches of the sea is undeniably fascinating – but fascinating doesn’t always mean beautiful. On the contrary, living miles and miles from the warmth and light of the sun sometimes means developing useful but truly terrifying characteristics.
When it came to naming one of the deepest-living fish, scientists made no pretense. With blank, ghostly eyes set in an oversized head along with huge, fang-like teeth filling a gaping maw of a mouth, the fish was dubbed Anoplogaster cornuta or fangtooth fish. It’s sometimes referred to by its nickname, ogrefish, which is just as fitting, albeit a little harsh. Though, if we’re honest, it at least sounds cooler than the poor deep-sea blobfish.
The Deep Sea Fangtooth Fish is Just as Terrifying as It Sounds
So, maybe you’re thinking, the poor little guy just looks terrifying and was named as such. Nope. It’s actually pretty horrifying. Luckily, you’re virtually guaranteed to never cross paths with the fangtooth fish, as it spends the majority of its life in waters at least 3,300 feet deep in the open sea.
Remember, it’s one of the deepest-living fish. Using remotely operated vehicles, scientists have observed the fangtooth fish as deep as 16,000 feet under the sea.
“The one species is truly a child of the Earth, occurring in all but the polar seas,” oceanographer Tracey Sutton told Newsweek. Despite their wide-spread population, scientists rarely see the fangtooth, thanks to its preferred habitat. In 30 years of deep-sea expeditions, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California has only seen the ghoulish fish 10 times!
It’s so elusive, in fact, that scientists aren’t even sure how many there are. “It occupies nearly all of the global deep ocean,” Sutton explained. “So its total numbers could actually be staggeringly high. Though it is a loner, not occurring in groups, and thus not abundant in any specific place.”
The fangtooth fish’s giant fangs allow it to catch and hang on to prey of all shapes and sizes. “They are voracious—they seem to eat anything that will fit in their mouths,” Sutton said. Don’t worry, though, they’re only about 6-7 inches in length. A human would not fit in its admittedly large mouth.
No, it’s the fangtooth’s fellow deep-sea fish that must live in fear of the grotesque creature. Using its impossibly large teeth, the fangtooth enjoys a wide variety of foods. On a typical day, it eats other fish, crustaceans, octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish.