Horned Two-rod Angler chokes on a Snoutscale Whiptail
Deepsea fishes often eat fishes larger than themselves. These 'big eaters' usually have large mouths and very distensible stomachs.
The top image shows a 112 mm long Horned Two-rod Angler, Diceratias bispinosus, that bit off more than it could chew in the form of a 369 mm long Snoutscale Whiptail, Ventrifossa johnboborum. The fishes were found dead and floating on the surface south-east of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea in April 1968.
The Horned Two-rod Angler has long depressible teeth which would have allowed the Snoutscale Whiptail to be ingested but not allowed its release. Both fishes were assumed to have died because insufficient oxygenated water could pass over the gills. See Paxton & Lavenberg (1973) for more information.
The Horned Two-rod Angler grows to about 11 cm in length. It occurs in mesopelagic depths in tropical waters of the Indo-west Pacific. In Australia it is known from off central to north-western Western Australia.
The Snoutscale Whiptail grows to about 48 cm. It is a benthic species that occurs in continental slope depths of the Indo-west and central Pacific. In Australia it is known from off north-western Western Australia and off northern Queensland to Bass Strait.
The holotype of Ventrifossa johnboborum is in the Australian Museum Fish Collection (AMS I.15602-002).
The image to the right shows a Cohen's Whiptail, another fish in the family Macrouridae. It was added to the page to give an indication of what is inside the Horned Two-rod Angler's mouth.
- Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. in Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
- Paxton, J.R. & R.J. Lavenberg. 1973. Feeding mortality in a deep sea Angler Fish (Diceratias bispinosus) due to a Macrourid Fish (Ventrifossa sp). Australian Zoologist. 18(1): 47-51.
Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow