Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The angler fish

Alright, it's time for me to post something informative and not the usual gossip about myself. We here at the Orange Cowboy want you to learn something, to grow and expand your knowledge base!

First a little background. My dad has a PhD in biology and is a professor. My sister is working on her PhD, also in biology, and will be done in a little over a year.

My mom, dad, and I were watching Finding Nemo one afternoon and after the movie, we got to talking about the angler fish. You know, the fish that lives deep in the ocean and has the little light that Marlin and Dory were attracted to, almost getting themselves killed? Anyway, my dad started talking about angler fish reproduction.

Now, he's not always the most, ahem, truthful person. He enjoys tricking us and embellishing stories from time to time, so we're never really sure if he's making something up or telling the truth. He always keeps us on our toes. So he claims that the angler fish male attaches to the female, then dies, and all that is left is it's gonads. Nice. My mom and I don't believe any of this, so when my sister comes home later that afternoon, I ask her,

"What do you know about angler fish?"
She says, "Well, they live in the ocean and they have a light that they use to attract other..."
I interrupt, "What do you know about angler fish (pause) reproduction?"
"Well, the male burrows into the female and then disintegrates, leaving his gonads behind."
My mom and I can't believe it! My dad was telling the truth.

And if you still aren't convinced, when we were at the Natural History Museum in New York City this summer, we saw this:

I know it's a little dark, but that thing on the female's head is what's left of the male. (It'll help if you click on the picture and zoom in.) It reads:

Male Parasitism
In a world where finding a mate is no small feat, some angler fishes have evolved an extraordinary strategy. The tiny male angler searches for the female by smell, then bites into her and becomes permanently attached. Eventually his mouth fuses to her body, his gut disintegrates, his blood vessels merge with hers, and he becomes little more than an attached sperm sac available at any time to fertilize her eggs. In some species some females have several males embedded in their bodies.

And there you have it folks. Tell all your friends!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

...i'm thinking "What's on your mind?" isn't such a hot conversation starter among angler fish.

Thursday, January 05, 2006 1:24:00 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

HAHA! :)

Thursday, January 05, 2006 4:24:00 PM  

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