Rare 'Cannibal' Fish Shocks Beachcombers

Lancetfish washes up on North Carolina shore

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted May 18, 2014 3:59 PM CDT

(Newser) – First a weird shark, and now this: Guests at Jennette's Pier in Nags Head, NC, were surprised to see a rare Lancetfish wash up on shore last week, My Fox 8 reports. People took photos of the fish—which has razor-sharp, "fang-like" teeth, and grows up to 6.6 feet in length, notes Tech Times—and posted them on Facebook, inspiring some people to say they would stay out of the water for now, the Daily Mail reports. The fish itself was reluctant to leave when put back in the ocean, possibly because it was ill, reports WISTV.com.

The two species of Lancetfish have a long history—dating back 11 to 16 million years, biologists say—and are the only survivors of the genus Alepisaurus, or scaleless lizard. Living at great depths, it swims in most waters outside of polar regions and likes eating shrimp, other crustaceans, and occasionally another Lancetfish. Its watery muscles are poorly suited for long-distance swimming, so it likely ambushes prey. "I wouldn't want that thing lancing me!" wrote one Facebook user, reports AOL Travel. "Wow!! Very prehistoric looking!!"

The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History previewed this Lancetfish back in 2008.
The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History previewed this Lancetfish back in 2008.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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