Rare Fanged Cannibal Fish Discovered Alive On North Carolina Beach (PHOTO)
May 19, 2014 04:22 PM EDT
A live specimen of the rare cannibalistic deep sea monster was caught at Jennette's Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina, with visitors shocked at the scary-looking fanged fish.
Identified as a long-snouted lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox), the monstrous fish is a nocturnal predator that's rarely seen near shore, Live Science reported.
Known for the habit of eating their own species, the fish have large evil-looking fangs and tall dorsal fin.
The specimen's life cycle remains a mystery since it's a relatively uncommon fish that inhabits the open ocean.
Due to their prominent, jagged dorsal fin, which runs almost the entire length of their back, Lancetfish are also known as handsaw fish.
Their scientific name, Alepisaurus, translated as "scaleless lizard," refers to the absence of scales and the existence of pores instead.
"They can grow to be as long as 6.5 feet (2 meters) in length," Live Science reported. "Lancetfish generally feed at night, and in addition to dining on other lancetfish, they also eat crustaceans, squid and smaller species of fish."
"Lancetfish are in turn preyed upon by seals, sharks and other large fish, including tuna. They're not considered a good fish for human consumption, because their muscles contain large amounts of water, making their flesh somewhat mushy. Fishermen, in fact, consider the lancetfish a 'trash' fish that sometimes takes bait intended for more profitable catches such as tuna."
The fish is speculated to be an ambush predator by scientists since high water content in their muscles makes it extremely difficult for them to move quickly or pursue other prey. Big dorsal fins are most probably used to move forward in short bursts to catch their prey.
Although the specimen has been known to travel as far north as Greenland and Iceland, they can also be found in open waters throughout tropical and subtropical oceans, Live Science reported.
The lancetfish found in North Carolina was alive when it washed up on shore, but when it was carried back out into deeper water it washed ashore again, indicating it may have been sick, according to Nature World News.