The world's deepest living predator looks like something out of Alien

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Jun 15, 2017

If things that lurk in the deep sea often look like they were spawned in deep space, then the deep-sea lizard fish might as well have xenomorph DNA.

Also known as Bathysaurus ferox (B. ferox), aka “fierce deep-sea lizard,” this 20-inch terror that could have been dreamed up by Ridley Scott may easily be called alien fish, whatever the scientific name for that would be. What is basically a giant mouthful of razor teeth attached to a translucent eel-like body slinks along the ocean floor in depths of 3,280 to 8,200 feet until it snaps up unsuspecting prey.

Kind of like the xenomorph, B. ferox first grinned at scientists on a research vessel. The ship had been trawling off the coast of eastern Australia when the thing’s menacing jaws got tangled in its net. Onboard communicator Asher Flatt can only imagine being a hapless fish ambushed by this ichthyo-horror in the dark.

"This terrifying terror of the deep is largely made up of a mouth and hinged teeth, so once it has you in its jaws, there is no escape: The more you struggle, the farther into its mouth you go," said Flatt.

 

Like other lizard fish, B. ferox hides out in the sand very much like a dragon in its lair (another reptilian analogy), lying deathly still until something swims above it and sets it snapping. Unlike its extended family, it doesn’t just stick to fish and squid but is literally a bottomless garbage disposal, engulfing everything in sight. It also doesn’t play well with others. When paired with other fish in aquariums, B. ferox will devour everything alive in the tank, even the neon mermaid castle if there happens to be one. Almost nothing eats them, including humans. The tasteless and mushy fillet it would make isn’t exactly worthy of a Zagat rating.

Besides being a prime candidate for an extra in Alien: Covenant, the fearsome fish has some attributes that make it a biological anomaly. There are other reasons besides its endless rows of teeth that it is thought to have survived for so long in such a hostile environment. B. ferox is hermaphroditic and can therefore mate with any other eligible b. ferox that goes swimming by. It also has an unusually massive liver that is 20% of its total body weight, and while the explanation is still murky, scientists believe it might fuel the fish’s need for extra energy.

B. ferox is also thought to be bioluminescent. While this assumption is based on other species of lizard fish, it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine this sea monster glowing in the dark.

(via LiveScience)