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    A New 3D Scanning Technique Reveals that Anglerfish Can Swallow Things Twice Its Size

    Written by

    Jason Koebler

    Staff Writer

    Photos: UK Natural History Museum

    The only thing going for humans when it comes to defending ourselves against anglerfish is the fact that they live more than 1,000 meters below the ocean’s surface. Okay, and the huge size advantage we’ve got. Beyond that, everything about the fish is the stuff of nightmares.

    There’s the rows of razor sharp teeth, the way it waddles through the ocean with its disjointed jaw agape, the ominous “angler” or light it’s got jutting out from its forehead, and its terrifying method of sexual reproduction (the female absorbs the male, which is thousands of times smaller in size). Now there’s this: It can eat fish twice its size.

    That's a lot of bones in a little fish.

    For the first time, researchers at London’s Natural History Museum have managed to figure out what was in the stomach of one of their “hairy” anglerfish, named for the many antennae it has that make it look like it’s got hair. The museum’s specimen is one of only 17 hairy anglerfish ever discovered, but its stomach was hugely expanded. For years, James Maclaine, the museum’s curator of fish, had wondered what the hell was in there. 

    “It’s the biggest one that’s ever been found,” he said in a video posted by the museum. “We don’t want to cut it open because it’s such a rare specimen and we don’t want to damage it.”

    The Anglerfish, according to Nat Geo

    Recently, however, the museum used a micro-CT scanner to create a 3D X-ray of the fish and its stomach. Inside was a fish more than twice the length of the anglerfish, proving that these things can stuff a whole lot of prey into their balloon-shaped bodies. Scientists are just starting to use CT scans for this kind of thing—with just a couple scans, they can provide a more clear picture than hundreds of individual x-rays. 

    When it comes to the ocean, it’s impossible to name one weirdest or most terrifying fish, because every time something like this comes up, there’s an oarfish invasion or something. But the anglerfish has to at least be in the conversation. Stay out of the (extremely deep parts of the) water...