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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Specimen of the Week: Week Three

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 31 October 2011

Specimen of the Week: Week ThreeFirstly, HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!!!


This week’s specimen of the week is a scary creature of the deep that uses deception and cunning to survive in a hostile world. The specimen of the week is…



**!!!!The Angler Fish!!!!**


Here are the five fantastically fun and fabulously fishy facts about the anglerfish…


Anglerfish at the Grant Museum

Angler fish (Lophius piscatorius) at the Grant Museum. LDUCZ-V159

1) Like the floating heads in the Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the anglerfish’s head is nearly as wide as its body is long.


2) An attractive feature; unlike most other species of fish, the anglerfish has no scales. However its skin is rough and knobbly. That doesn’t stop some humans eating them though.


3) The anglerfish has three long spines on the head, located between the eyes. The first of these spines acts as a naughty lure to attract unsuspecting prey within striking distance of the fish’s mouth, giving it the name ‘angler fish’.


4) On top of many documentary appearances, the anglerfish hit the big time when it broke into Hollywood and became the star of its own B-movie (maybe Z-movie?) released in 1995 under the title ‘Anglerfish’. It was such a flop it’s not even available on Amazon Market Seller with the other VHS films you’d spend more on postage for than the product. However, in 2003 the anglerfish surfaced again for a toothy bit part in Finding Nemo in which it attempted to eat the main characters.


5) Females anglerfish lay up to a million eggs, enveloped in a band of mucus that can reach up to ten metres in length. This egg rich mucus then drifts in open ocean. After hatching, the larvae take four years to become sexually mature if male and six years if female (sure proof they are clearly not related to humans).


Anglerfish 2.291 at the Grant Museum

Anglerfish 2.291 at the Grant Museum

This week’s specimen is dedicated to the anglerfish loving Beatrice, her friend Remy and her very little sister Marnie.


Tonight at the Grant Museum we have a very special spooky Halloween event- join us, if you dare, to explore the role of animals in scare-stories, rituals and superstitions from across the world. Where better to spend Halloween than in a room of scary skeletons and skulls? Click here for details.


If you would like to adopt this poor little orphan anglerfish (see left), please get in touch with us at zoology.museum@ucl.ac.uk.

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