DAVIE, Fla., Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Anglerfish are some of the most unusual -- and ugly -- creatures in the sea. Now, their strange-looking family is a little bigger, and a little more hideous.
Researchers at Nova Southeastern University, in Florida, have discovered a new anglerfish species swimming in the dark waters of the Gulf of Mexico, some 3,000 feet below the surface.
The species, named Lasiognathus dinema, was brought up to the surface by a research trawl deployed to study the affects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on sea life at various depths.
Tracey Sutton, a deep-sea expert, was the first to lay her eyes on the strange fish. She teamed up with Theodore Pietsch, a biologist at the University of Washington, to describe the new species, which like other anglerfish boasts a fishing pole-like lamp on the top of its head, used to attract prey.
Together they published their description of the new species in the journal Copeia.
"As a researcher, the one thing I know is that there's so much more we can learn about our oceans," Sutton said in a press release. "Every time we go out on a deep-sea research excursion there's a good chance we'll see something we've never seen before -- the life at these depths is really amazing."
Looking at the species' wicked mug, one might assume the anglerfish's prey simply freeze in fear. The creature's crooked needle-like teeth are rather frightening. But the new species, like its other deep-sea brethren, doesn't deal in fear, it's driven by the desperate quest for survival in a rather inhospitable world.
"It's just a really harsh place to live," Sutton told the Sun Sentinel. "There's no sunlight. It's cold all the time. There's a lot of pressure. There's not a lot of food. Anything you see, you'd better eat it."
Sutton and her research partners pulled up three specimens of the new species, all female. They were located between 3,400 and 4,900 feet. Each measured roughly four inches long. Sutton says the discovery is proof of how little scientists know about the deep.
"Finding this new species reinforces the notion that our inventory of life in the vast ocean interior is far from complete," he said. "Every research trip is an adventure and another opportunity to learn about our planet and the varied creatures who call it home."