Today there’s a new addition to the “real life is stranger than fiction” category. Check out the fish Macropinna microstoma. It has tubular eyes and a SEE-THROUGH HEAD!!!!

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These photos blew me away today. Here’s another:

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The common name for the fish is “barrel eyes.”   Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute investigators recently figured out why this species has such an unusual head. Its eyes can actually rotate INSIDE its “skull,” so the transparent face  allows the fish to keep an eye on happenings above it, as well as to the sides and directly in front.

Using video cameras, MBARI researchers Bruce Robison and Kim Reisenbichler revealed the fish’s eye movements. When remotely operated vehicles approached the fish, its eyes glowed a vivid green shade in the bright lights of the ROVs. Usually the fish were just hanging out motionless under the deep waters offshore California’s central coast.

Here’s a “face-on” view showing the green glow.
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Although the fish has a tiny mouth, it possesses a large digestive systems. Two net-caught individuals contained fragments of jellyfish, which must have been their last meal.

A siphonophore jelly which these fish like to munch on!
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Such a potentially painful & stinging dinner requires incredible stealth, so it’s now thought that barrel eyes fish carefully maneuvers its body near such stinging organisms, keeping its “eyes on the prize,” as the researchers said, throughout the entire hunt. Its tiny mouth then picks at the victim while a transparent shield protects the fish’s eyes.

To see more images of the transparent-headed fish, please visit this MBARI website.

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