Bony Eared Assfish: Nature’s Quirkiest Underwater Oddity

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The majestic Bony Eared Assfish! yeah you heard it right Assfish! Truly, a creature that defies all conventional notions of beauty and elegance. If you ever find yourself in need of a good laugh, look no further than this peculiar fish. It is sometimes also called as  “donkey-fish” or simply a cavernous assfish.

Why it is called the Bony Eared Assfish?

With a name like “Bony-Eared Assfish,” you can’t help but wonder who the hell named a fish like this. Did they gather around a table, rubbing their hands together, and say, “You know what would be hilarious? Let’s combine the most unappealing elements and create a fish that embodies pure absurdity!” Well, mission accomplished!

Scientific name of the species, Acanthonus armatus, was provided to this assfish by German ichthyologist Albert Günther in 1887. Günther was particularly interested in the assfish’s bizarre looks. It is sometimes also called as the ‘Donkey Fish.’

Armatus in Latin means “armed”. Assfish has spikes on its nose and gills, and Akanthos is Greek for “prickly” and and onus means denotes a hake – the literal translation of the name would be “cod-like fish armed with spines.” But, in Ancient Greek onos also means ass or donkey. That’s why someone translated its name as assfish. But still bony-eared assfish looks nothing like the human buttocks, poor fish!

Boney Eared Assfish
Academy of natural sciences

Bony Eared Assfish Habitat

This peculiar creature can be found in the depths of the ocean, lurking in the abyssal zones where sunlight dares not venture. It is found in deep waters off tropical and subtropical areas of all oceans. The Bony-Eared Assfish has been found at depths more than 4,000 meters.

These fish spend their days hovering just above the seafloor, waiting patiently for prey to pass by. Talk about Brainpower, this fish as a very little brain which is rarely used. The bony-eared assfish may have the smallest brain-to-body weight ratio of all vertebrates. Researchers found a 40 gram fish with a brain weighing less than 30 mg. That’s less than 1/1000th of the body weight, Ouch!

It’s because of this slow lifestyle that the fish are able to operate on very little brain power.  The Bony-Eared Assfish is a slow-moving fish that feeds primarily on small crustaceans and other invertebrates.

An Appearance Only a Mother Could Love

It’s actually a type of cusk-eel, an eel-like fish that resembles a “glorified tadpole.” But let’s not stop at ears!. In the dark and frigid waters, the Assfish blends in seamlessly with its surroundings. Its coloration, a mix of mottled gray and brown, ensures that it remains inconspicuous, even in the most monotonous underwater landscapes. It’s like the fish equivalent of an undercover agent, masterfully disguised as just another ordinary rock or patch of sediment.

Imagine a fish with ears. No, not regular ears like you and I have, but bony, protruding appendages that make you question whether evolution has a sense of humor. These “ears” might as well be antennas for receiving interstellar radio signals because, honestly, that would be more entertaining.

Jokes apart, the bony ears helps in detecting prey and predators in the dark, deep-sea environment. Their big globular head contains heavy otoliths (or ‘fish ears’) suggesting it is particularly sensitive to low-frequency sound. It has a very well developed lateral line-a sensory organ running the length of the creature used to detect movement in the water nearby.

Boney Eared Assfish
Fishes of Australia

Like many deep sea creatures, Assfishes are soft and flabby light skeleton. A lack of food and the high pressures that accompany living at deep depths make it difficult for them to generate muscle and bone.

The Bony-Eared Assfish can reach up to 16 inches in length. The Bony-Eared Assfish is also a scavenger, feasting on the decaying remains of other sea creatures. Talk about having a refined palate! Nothing says “bon appétit” like a meal of rotting fish guts.

So, there you have it, folks—the Bony-Eared Assfish, a true marvel of nature’s sense of humor. Thank you, Bony-Eared Assfish, for proving that even in the vast and diverse tapestry of life, there’s always room for a good chuckle.

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