Discovered in the deep: the fish with razor-sharp fangs too big for its mouth

Deep-sea viperfish have razor-sharp fangs so big they don’t fit inside their mouth, but they interlock in front of their jaws forming an inescapable, glassy cage. “When people think of deep sea fishes, the viperfish is one of the first things that comes into their mind,” says Yi-Kai Tea, a fish expert from the Australian Museum in Sydney. “They’re very charismatic, very iconic.”

Tea found a Sloane’s viperfish (Chauliodus sloani) on a research expedition that recently returned from the remote waters of the Indian Ocean around the islands of Cocos (Keeling). This species is relatively common in open waters of the twilight zone, between about 500 and 1,000 metres down, so it was a surprise to find this one in the trawl net that Tea and his team were using to sample animal life closer to the seabed.

The viperfish’s teeth form a trap for prey and are very difficult to see. Photograph: Museum Victoria

The viperfish’s splendid teeth not only form a trap for prey, but…

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This article was written by Helen Scales and originally published on