The viperfish is one of the fiercest predators of the deep. It's scientific
name is Chauliodus sloani. The viperfish's name comes from its fang
resemblance to the Viper Snake. The viperfish, which typically grows to at least
a foot long, has a very large mouth, which opens very widely but is not big
enough to contain the fish's long teeth. The viperfish is also bioluminescent, with
photophores light-emitting organs on its dorsal fin and along its body to lure its
prey to it. The fish has been observed hovering in place in the water with its
dorsal fin curved around so that its photophore is waving near its mouth, as a
means of drawing prey. Because the viperfish's body is dark blue or black in
color, it is thought that other fish can see no part of it other than its lights.
The viperfish uses swimming for locomotion. It has been known to impale
its victims on its teeth by swimming toward them, while using its first vertebra as
a shock absorber. The viperfish's diet consists of shrimp, squid, and little fishes.
The viperfish is found at depths of 500-2500 meters during the day in the part of
the ocean sometimes called the "twilight zone," because very little light
penetrates to that depth. When it goes in search of the crustaceans and small
fish that are its main sources of food at night; it rises as close as to the surface
as 80 meters where food is more plentiful. The Viperfish occurs in tropical and
temperate marine waters world-wide. In Australia, specimens have been
collected from south-western Western Australia, around the north of the country
and south to Tasmania.
An adaptation that the viperfish has made is the dorsal fin has
photophores that are believed to attract prey. Little is known of the reproduction
of this species, but it is believed to spawn externally. This means that the males
and females release sperm and eggs into the water where fertilization...
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