The viperfish lurks in the darkest depths of the sea. Named for its fang-like teeth, this fierce predator has developed a specialized hunting technique that’s perfect for mile-deep ocean floors where there is no light. This fish generates its own light and uses it to attract prey.
What an Angler: The viperfish’s jaws are wider than its body and can open to an amazing 90° angle to grasp prey as big as itself.
Fearsome Fangs: The long, needle-like lower teeth spear prey. Smaller teeth inside the throat then take hold and deliver the victim to the stomach, whole.
Move Away from the Light!
Special cells called photophores line the side of the viperfish’s body. These cells give off a blue light that disguises the fish’s shape in the dark. Plus, the front ray of the dorsal fin stretches over the head and ends in a glowing gland. Dangling near the mouth, this light attracts prey within striking distance of the viperfish’s deadly teeth.
Oh Say Can You See?: To hunt in the dark, the viperfish needs excellent eyesight. Its eyes are 30 times more sensitive to light than a human’s.
Head Banger: To strike at prey, the viperfish throws back its head and pushes its jaws forward. This creature’s gills and heart are pushed downward to allow passage of prey into its stomach.
- As the viperfish waits patiently for prey to swim by, all other fish can see it a light dancing in the darkness.
- Drawn like a moth to the flame, the fish swims within range of the viperfish’s jaws.
- Pulling back the lure, the viperfish opens wide and lunges forward, snaring the prey in its toothy clutches.