The 27 Best Deep-Sea Species: #19 Black Devil Anglerfish


#19 Black Devil or Humpback Anglerfish (Melanocetus johnsonii, Class Actinopterygii, Order Lophiiformes, Family Melanocetidae)

This species has become the vertebrate poster child for deep-sea science.  What’s not to love?  The size of a tennis ball, the females can swallow prey four times their size because of a flabby stomach.  Thanks to tiny fins and a virtually absent tail these fleshy footballs are not going anywhere fast.

The prominent lure not just a lighted organ to attract prey but a beacon of sexual energy attracting potential mates.  And those tiny males, barely ten percent of the female’s length, are little more than swimming sperm sacks.  When the males find a female, they attach, living the rest of their life a parasite.  Those females are very lucky indeed. Below the fold Sir Attenborough’s ode to the anglerfish.  Now for anglerfish haiku. Feel free to include yours below in the comments.

The twilight zone –
two angler fish begin the cycle:
always as one.


Pictures from Ocean Explorer and

Dr. M (1720 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

4 comments on “The 27 Best Deep-Sea Species: #19 Black Devil Anglerfish
  1. Unbelievable. The video actually frightened me. The wonders of nature indeed. That is one “football” I wouldn’t want to wrap my hand around.

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