Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

The World's Weirdest Fish

A new species of frogfish from Indonesia may not be the world's weirdest — but we defy you to find anything more bizarre. First, the name: Histiophryne psychedelica, in honor of its crazy-colored stripes that suggest a bad trip on LSD. But that's just the beginning. Like other Histiophrynes, this one has fins that resemble legs. It bounces. The fish pushes off the bottom with its fins while shooting water from its gills, then floats to the bottom and does it again — moving forward but not in a straight line, because the tail isn't centered on the body. Each bounce sends the fish off at a new angle. As described in an article about the new species in the journal Copeia, the fish has a "broad flat face, surrounded by thick, fleshy, laterally expanded cheeks and chin, with eyes directed forward; skin of the body thick and loose, forming conspicuous fleshy folds that envelop the unpaired fins." In short, it's a charmer.