Weirdly Lethal

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Photos and footage of anglerfish make them look petrifying at first glance, but some of these deep-sea predators are known for some odd behaviors.

Case in point, scientists recently discovered that the whipnose anglerfish likes to swim around upside down, the New York Times reported.

Anglerfish are known for their sharp teeth and bioluminescent lures sprouting from their noses, which they use to attract unsuspecting prey. Whipnoses are about the size of a housecat, but their lures are around four times their body’s length – although this only applies to the female species.

Initially, marine researchers suspected that the fish species would dangle their spiny lures in front of their faces – similar to other anglerfish – but video footage suggested otherwise.

In their study, a research team studied videos of various whipnoses found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Footage from a 1999 underwater mission about midway between Hawaii and California showed one of the deep-sea fish floating motionless and upside down. At the time, scientists described it as a goofy – but bizarre – behavior.

But other video footage from other regions showed that living upside down was common for whipnoses.

While this behavior doesn’t look intimidating, the team suspected that swimming upside down makes the anglerfish more lethal: Keeping the lure further from their mouth allows the creature to take down larger and faster prey, such as squids.

The new findings were possible thanks to the use of remotely operated vehicles that have allowed marine researchers to better study deep-sea ecosystems.

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