Thursday, July 1, 2010
July 1, 2010 : Gulper Eel
The pelican eel, or Eurypharynx pelecanoides, is a deep-sea fish rarely seen by humans, though the creatures are occasionally snagged in fishermen's nets. It is an eel-like fish, the only member of the genus Eurypharynx and the family Eurypharyngidae. It belongs to the order Saccopharyngiformes which is closely related to the true eels in Anguilliformes. It is also sometimes referred to as the umbrella mouth gulper.
The pelican eel's most notable feature is its enormous mouth, much larger than its body. The mouth is loosely-hinged, and can be opened wide enough to swallow a fish much larger than itself. The pouch-like lower jaw resembles that of a pelican, hence its name. The stomach can stretch and expand to accommodate large meals, although analysis of stomach contents suggests that the eels primarily eat small crustaceans. Despite the great size of the jaws, which occupy about a quarter of the animal's total length, it has only tiny teeth, which also would not be consistent with a regular diet of large fish.