From the archives: The deep

The bioluminescent suction shark that’s one third liver; the falling houses feeding the deep; an unexplained underwater fossil that has been around for half a billion years; and the quadrillion bristlemouths of the mesopelagic twilight zone.

Jennifer Strotman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The cookiecutter shark might win the title of weirdest shark in the ocean: not only is it bioluminescent, but it uses suction to attach predators much larger than itself and its liver takes up about one third of its total weight.


Larvaceans are sea creatures that create giant mucous traps for plankton; their discarded “houses” are a significant part of the food chain in the ocean depths.


This strange underwater honeycomb pattern appears in the fossil record going back 500 million years – and we’re still finding it today. But we still don’t know exactly what makes it.


Carl Chun and Friedrich Wilhelm Winter, Public domain, via Wikimedia

Bristlemouths may be the most common vertebrate animal on the planet. There are an estimated quadrillion of them across the world’s oceans.

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