It may give the impression of being a tardy little fellow, but it soon reveals itself to be tough.
The sarcastic fringehead (Neoclinus blanchardi) has an odd name and an equally odd attitude. With a single display of its swollen mouth, which is broader than its head, or perhaps its entire body, this scary tiny fish may frighten creatures considerably larger than itself.
This ultra-aggressive little guy only grows to around 30 centimetres (12 inches) in length, with a long and thin body, huge pectoral fins, and much smaller pelvic fins, and was discovered in 1858. It may be found in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of North America, from San Francisco in the United States to Baja California in Mexico.
Sarcastic fringeheads are ambush predators, meaning they will seek out a hiding spot that will provide them with both shelter and a vantage position from which to attack on victims. They’ll fiercely charge at anyone that gets too close once they’ve reverse parked into their designated nook — including divers. They don’t like to let go, according to the survivors.
These fish have a reputation for being fierce fighters. When two fringeheads fight over territory, they squeeze their bloated jaws together to make it look like they’re kissing, but they’re actually establishing who is the bigger fish. The larger fish – or, more accurately, the fish with the larger jaw – wins control, securing the best den and the opportunity to mate.
The female then deposits tens of thousands of eggs in the desired area, which the male fertilizes. He subsequently uses greater oral aggression to safeguard his children.
The thesis research of marine researcher Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp reveals that fringeheads communicate with each other by using the many bright colors on their lips. But they don’t appear to have a lot of positive things to say.
The term ‘fringehead’ relates to the floppy fronds of tissue that fall over the fish’s eyes, while’sarcastic’ is considered to be derived from the Greek word sarkázein, which means ‘to shred flesh.’
And, well, look at this: either of them may be real.
Aren’t they terrifying? They surely believe they are.
However, because to their diminutive stature, they aren’t quite as frightening as they would want.
But keep it a secret from them.