Have you ever looked at a fish and wondered, “What is that weird thing on its head and what is it there for?” Well here is our list of the 'Top 10 Weirdest Things Found on a Fish's Head'.
- Electrosensitive Rostrum: “That’s no banana, that’s my nose! Acha cha cha cha.” Even at the expense of looking incredibly weird, some fish have developed extended nose like structures called rostrums that are used as electrosensory organs. Goblin sharks and Paddlefish exemplify this, most likely due to murky or dark conditions where they are commonly found, limiting their ability to visually see prey. Paddlefish rostrums are so sensitive to electrical pulses that they can sense the muscle twitch of a single plankton! Sawfish have taken the electrosensitive rostrum to a whole new level, by also using it as a weapon, with razor sharp teeth on either edge of the rostrum that cut prey in half.
- Ampullae of Lorenzini: Have you ever noticed when up close and
- Nuchal hump: It may look like this fish swam right into a ledge and
- Sucking Disk: The remora’s highly modified dorsal fin that forms a
- Sword-like Bill: A highly elongated spear or sword-like rostrum is
- Bioluminescent Lure: Have you ever found yourself standing on
- Barbels: Many different fish species, like catfish and sturgeons, have a network of sensory appendages hanging off of their faces called barbels. Generally, fish barbels just hang about attempting to sense electrical pulses that are generated by a prey species. Whereas goatfish have barbels growing from their chin (hence the ‘goat’ name) that they use like fingers to dig around in the sand to actively probe, excavate, and detect hidden prey. Wouldn’t it be crazy to have chin fingers?
- Kype: Salmon moving from saltwater into freshwater to breed undergo significant physical and morphological changes. Once entering freshwater, most salmon stop eating and focus entirely on upstream migration and spawning, before dying. Male salmon develop giant hooked jaws and breeding teeth on a structure called a kype. Without the need to eat, this new jaw functions to fend off other males and impress the lady salmon. I wonder if Gonzo is related to a salmon?
- Tubercles: Every year in the mountain streams of North Carolina,
- Cephalic Fins: Giant Manta Rays are acrobatic marvels. Considering their large size and diet that consists of tiny plankton, they need any extra advantage to capture as much food as possible. Manta Rays use cephalic fins to funnel plankton-rich water into their mouths where gill rakers filter out the plankton. When not feeding, Manta Rays often extend these fins, giving the appearance of horns…hence the name “Devil Rays”.
Incredibly, many of the top 10 weirdest things found on fish heads have similar functions. Without surprise, many help the fish eat, mate, defend itself against predators, or provide camouflage.
Tell us in the comments below which one you think is the weirdest. Do you know of any more weird or awesome fish head attachments? Add them to the comments section below!
Here is a list of additional fish with weird heads:
Slender Snipe Eel
Pacific Barrel Eye Fish
Leafy Sea Dragon
Weedy Sea Dragon
One more thing: Thank you to all who have read and contributed to The Fisheries Blog. We were honored to recently be recognized by industry leading Fisheries Magazine as a leader in sharing fisheries information through Social Media. See the link to the article (http://www.thefisheriesblog.com/2013/04/the-fisheries-blog-gets-recognition.html)