Researchers have discovered a hermaphroditic deep-sea lizard with odd anatomy that undoubtedly makes it an optimal predator of the sea. What is this creature that has renewed terror of murky depths and raised the hair on the back of researchers’ necks?
A horrifying fish with the face of a lizard, the teeth of a shark, and the body of an eel has recently been found dominating the sea floors off the coast of Australia. Who is this new predator in town? The Deepsea lizardfish, scientifically known as Bathysaurus ferox, which literally translates to “fierce deepsea lizard.”
As the name suggests, Deepsea lizardfish are typically found in the dark depths of tropical or temperate seas, with the first being discovered off the coast of Australia. They reside at depths of 600-3,500 meters, in an area known as the Aphotic zone, with temperatures ranging between 3 and 4 degrees Celsius (37.4-39.2 degrees Fahrenheit). Because of the scarceness of food at the bottom of the ocean, Deepsea lizardfish are few and far between.
The Deepsea lizardfish isn’t a picky superpredator. Because there is little to eat on the sea floor, Deepsea lizard fish will lock their jaws onto anything edible, including squid and other fish of various sizes.They are considered piscivores, carnivorous predators that most eat fish but have been known to eat crustaceans and mollusks. In fact, it will eat anything that crosses its path, including other Deepsea lizardfish.
Scientists point to the anatomy of the fish as the reason it’s an apex predator. With a broad, flat bone plated head, the Deepsea lizardfish has a wide jaw filled with needle-thin teeth that are visible even with its mouth closed, a clear sign that the lizardfish is a formidable foe to any other creature crossing its path. Add in the camouflage scales, ranging from grayish to blackish in color, and its slender, eel-like body, the Deepsea lizardfish has the advantage of being not only stealthy but quick in its attacks.
Deepsea lizardfish aren’t pretty to look at. In fact, their giant bony heads lined with deadly teeth are what makes them nightmarish in appearance and the kind of monsters we wouldn’t want to encounter but isn’t that the point? If predators like the Deepsea Lizardfish didn’t look grotesque and appalling to other creatures, especially humans, they might have gone extinct. They might have become monsters of legends rather than predators of the sea that, hideousness aside, we can’t stop ogling.