Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pelican Eel

(Image Source)
Pelican Eel, Umbrella Mouth Eel, Gulper Eel, Eurypharynx pelecanoides, no matter what you call it, this is one strange looking animal. Pelican Eels are so named because of their absolutely gigantic mouths. They are found in rather deep waters, between 3,000 and 26,000 feet, of both tropical and subtropical waters around the world.

Pelican Eels can grow up to a meter in length, with a large portion of that taken up by its massive head. Their mouths have hinged jaws that would allow them to eat fish much larger than themselves. Their stomachs stretch as well, though interestingly, they have very small teeth. This, combined with found stomach contents, demonstrates that Pelican Eels primarily eat small crustaceans.

(Image Source)
Another rather interesting part of their body is the long, whip-like tail. Pelican Eels have long tails that are tipped with bioluminescent photophores. It is believed that these serve a purpose to lure prey in the dark, deep water.

Not much else is really known about these strange fish. They live so far down that we only really get to study specimens that get accidentally caught by fishermen. They have need been evaluated by IUCN.

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