Flat-Faced Fish: First in Family?

Scientific American, 5th April 2008

Divers have discovered an unusual flat-faced fish with forward-looking eyes that may represent an entirely new piscine family. If so, researchers say, it would be one of only a handful of new fish families found in the past 50 years. First photographed in January off Ambon Island, Indonesia, the critter has crooked, leglike pectoral fins on its sides—typical of anglerfish, which crawl or walk along the seafloor. Unlike others of its kind, however, which typically use lures on their heads to attract prey, this new flathead works its pliable body into crevices and cracks of coral reefs in search of food. Researchers say that DNA testing is needed to determine whether this zebra-striped fish will inaugurate a 19th family of anglerfish, or whether it simply had an unfortunate run-in with the business end of a hammerhead shark.

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