Faceless Fish Rediscovered After Almost 150 Years

The deep sea fish devoide of features (Picture: Asher Flatt / CSIRO)

An Australian deep-sea research expedition has captured a species of fish that appears to have no face, and was last seen 'way back in the 1870s', according to a report on the ABCs website.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) research vessel Investigator is currently exploring Australia's eastern abyss, a stretch of marine reserve stretching from northern Tasmania to central Queensland. The last time the fish was recorded as having been sighted was during the Challenger expedition, the world's first global maritime survery, conducted between 1873 and 1876 aboard the research vessel HMS Challenger.

In an interview with the ABC, Di Bray of Museums Victoria said that the finding of this undescribed faceless fish was the highlight of the 'awesome stuff' found by the study so far, listing a 'kind of chimaera that whizzed by... a fish with photosensitve plates on the top of its head,' and 'tripod fish that sit up on their fins and face into the current.'

'This little fish looks amazing because the mouth is actually situated at the bottom of the animal so, when you look side-on, you can’t see any eyes, you can’t see any nose or gills or mouth,' O’Hara said via satellite phone from the research vessel Investigator on Wednesday.

Dr Tim O'Hara, chief scientist and expedition leader said that 'the mouth is actually situated at the bottom of the animal so, when you look side-on, you can’t see any eyes, you can’t see any nose or gills or mouth.' adding later that 'it looks like two rear-ends on a fish, really.'

The eyes of the fish, caught at around 4,000m, are thought to be buried 'way back' under the skin of the head, but further study will be required to determine the exact physiology of the fish's head. 

Deep sea exploration regularly throws up strange and unusual creatures, but the number of distinct species discovered by the CSIRO expedition is impressive. 'The experts tell me that about a third of all specimens coming on board are new totally new to science,' said Dr O’Hara. 'They aren’t all as spectacular as the faceless fish but there’s a lot of sea fleas and worms and crabs and other things that are totally new and no one has seen them ever before.'






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