Fanged creature found on Texas beach after Hurricane Harvey


A mysterious fanged sea creature that washed up on a beach in Texas following Hurricane Harvey has been identified.  Preeti Desai found the decaying fish on a beach in Texas City, and asked Twitter for help.

She posted several photos with the caption: “Okay, biology twitter, what the heck is this?”

Her request was passed to biologist and eel specialist Dr Kenneth Tighe, a biologist with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, suspects we’re looking at Aplatophis chauliodus, the fangtooth snake-eel or “tusky” eel. (After skimming through some images of live specimens, it’s really not surprising that the species name for this animal roughly translates to “terrible serpent”.)

He said it may also be a garden or conger eel, because “all three of these species occur off Texas and have large fang-like teeth”.

Fangtooth snake-eels inhabit waters between 30 and 90 metres deep, and spend most of their time tucked away in burrows. Exactly how and why this one washed ashore is not known. It is thought that Hurricane Harvey, which brought strong winds and flooding to Texas, could explain why the creature was washed up.

Tighe adds that the eel might belong to another family – the garden and conger eels, family Congridae – but he explains that the fish’s large teeth rule out most species under that umbrella.

“It might be Bathyuroconger vicinus or Xenomystax congroides,” he adds. “All three of these species occur off Texas and have large fang-like teeth. Too bad you can’t clearly see the tip of the tail. That would differentiate between the ophichthid and the congrids.”

Preeti Desai found the creature on a Texas beach and asked Twitter for help identifying it


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September 25, 2017 |

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