Visitors to Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina, were shocked last week when an evil-looking fanged fish washed up alive on the shore.

The monstrous fish has been identified as a long-snouted lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox), a nocturnal predator that’s rarely seen near shore. The fish are known not only by their large fangs and tall dorsal fin, but also by their habit of eating their own species.

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Unrelated, full body view of the Long-snouted lancetfish

Because it’s a relatively uncommon fish that inhabits the open ocean, little is known about its life cycle. In adolescence, lancetfish are hermaphrodites (having both male and female sex organs), though there’s no evidence of adult hermaphrodites. 

Lancetfish are also known as handsaw fish, because of their prominent, jagged dorsal fin, which runs almost the entire length of their back. The fish have no scales — their scientific name, Alepisaurus, translates as “scaleless lizard” — and their skin is instead covered with pores.

They can grow to be as long as 6.5 feet (2 meters) in length. Lancetfish generally feed at night, and in addition to dining on other lancetfish, they also eat crustaceans, squid and smaller species of fish.

Lancetfish are in turn preyed upon by seals, sharks and other large fish, including tuna. They’re not considered a good fish for human consumption, because their muscles contain large amounts of water, making their flesh somewhat mushy. Fishermen, in fact, consider the lancetfish a “trash” fish that sometimes takes bait intended for more profitable catches such as tuna.

The fact that their muscles have a high water content makes it unlikely that the lancetfish can move quickly or pursue other prey, so scientists speculate the lancetfish is an ambush predator — it probably uses its big dorsal fin to accelerate in short bursts to overcome prey.

The fish are found in open waters throughout tropical and subtropical oceans, though they’ve been known to travel as far north as Greenland and Iceland.

The lancetfish found in North Carolina was alive when it washed up on shore, but when it was carried back out into deeper water it washed ashore again, indicating it may have been sick, according to Nature World News.



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Sue Sheehan · November 1, 2015 at 5:27 pm

I wouldn’t want a bite from it

Russell Smith · November 1, 2015 at 3:15 pm

A new one to me…..just when you thought you knew everything

Marvin Parrilla · October 30, 2015 at 10:23 pm


Cindy McKenna · October 30, 2015 at 11:43 am

Now that I would get stuffed and mounted

Arly Marly · October 30, 2015 at 9:25 am

Never knew this fish even existed, goes to show,The wonder of the world of Mother.

Lourdes Felismino · October 30, 2015 at 3:06 am

tenha um ótimo final de semana ta . beijus

Joe N Rhoda Velasco · October 30, 2015 at 12:47 am

Looks like a barracuda

Alyson Powell · October 29, 2015 at 10:43 pm

Debbie Lynn · October 29, 2015 at 9:47 pm

Creepy looking little critter☺

Joey Cook · October 29, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Long Faced Lance Fish!… What Is Fukushima?… What Is Genocide?..What is Nuclear Exposure?…What Is reality..

Fran King · October 29, 2015 at 7:38 pm

did they try to keep it alive?

Leah Watterson · October 29, 2015 at 7:28 pm

Wow that’s a weird one

Adrian Rivera · October 29, 2015 at 7:09 pm

:/ Wikipedia info WTF?

Melanie Eccleson · October 29, 2015 at 7:03 pm


Stephane Maretti · October 29, 2015 at 6:42 pm

ca resemble a un phoot montage 😉

Fran King · October 29, 2015 at 6:40 pm


Gary Adkison · October 29, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Never heard of it.

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