A science fiction writer creating imaginary life forms could find lots of inspiration undersea. On land, animals are pretty straightforward (for the most part): two or four legs, a nose, a tail, two eyes, ears, and feathers, fur, etc. But the “Intelligent Designer” went nuts in the ocean—animals shaped like stars, animals with no brains (jellies), glow-in-the-dark animals, animals that are male and female at the same time.
What’s amazing is that creatures are still being discovered. Yesterday I read about a weird fish called the psychedelic frogfish (Histiophryne psychedelica), a recently discovered species described from a specimen collected at Ambon, Indonesia. The fish’s bright “pyschedelic” color pattern is thought to mimic different kinds of hard coral. It has unusual forward-facing eyes and a big yawning mouth. The fish moves by a method similar to jet propulsion, bouncing like a rubber ball on the sea floor. You can read about it in this article, and see additional photographs of the fish on David Hall’s website (click on frogfish). [David Hall was my co-author and photographer for the Undersea Encounters series].
Check out this video of the Psychedelic Frogfish from the University of Washington on the National Geographic site.
The other creature I read about in the past week is called a barreleye fish. It was first described in 1939, but only recently have researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium solved the mystery of the fish’s tubular eyes. It’s now known that the fish can peer up at or look forward at potential predators or prey through its transparent head. Take a look at this truly weird-looking creature in a slide show on The Huffington Post.