A new record has been set by a fish living at the deepest place on earth – at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
Two University of Hawaii researchers, Jeff Drazen and Patty Fryer, filmed a new species of snailfish several times at a depth of 8,143 meters (26,715 feet). Noting that it has a different body shape than other known species of snailfish, it may in fact be something else entirely, however.
“We think it is a snailfish, but it’s so weird-looking; it’s up in the air in terms of what it is,” Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen told the BBC. “It is unbelievably fragile, and when it swims, it looks like it has wet tissue paper floating behind it. And it has a weird snout — it looks like a cartoon dog snout.”
Deep-sea fish have higher levels of a chemical called trimethylamine oxide (TMAO). TMAO helps proteins maintain their shape under higher ambient pressures. Theoretically, fish shouldn’t be able hold enough TMAO in their cells to live below 8,200 meters, according to recent research by Jamieson — so these new fish may very well be permanent record-holders.