The Fish with a Transparent Head
September 10, 2012
Macropinna microstoma is the only species of fish in the genus Macropinna, belonging to Opisthoproctidae, the barreleye family. It is recognized for a highly unusual transparent, fluid-filled dome on its head, through which the lenses of its eyes can be seen. The eyes have a barrel shape and can be rotated to point either forward or straight up, looking through the fish’s transparent dome. The fish normally hangs nearly motionless in the water, at a depth of about 600 metres (2,000 ft) to 800 metres (2,600 ft), using its large fins for stability and with its eyes directed upward. In the low light conditions it is assumed the fish detects prey by its silhouette.
M. microstoma has been known to science since 1939, but is not known to have been photographed alive until 2004. Old drawings do not show the transparent dome, as it is usually destroyed when brought up from the depths.