The Jelly(nose) Fish

by Jennifer Frazer on September 24, 2009

Because clearly, I can’t get enough of all things jelly . . . I spotted this video at National Geographic today. It seems fairly prosaic until the guy starts . . . er. . . palpitating said jellynose.

Not going to win any fish beauty contests . . . Photo by xxx distributed under a Creative Commons Noncommercial Attribution 3.0 Unported License

Not going to win any beauty contests . . .Ateleopus purpurea. Photo by Rodolfo B. Reyes and Fishbase, distributed under a Creative Commons Noncommercial Attribution 3.0 Unported License

Jellynose fish have cartilaginous bones like sharks, though they are in the same group as bony fishes (Teleosts). They seem to have lost their calcified bones secondarily — yet another case of convergent evolution. Cartilage is a living connective tissue that pads your joints. In cartilaginous fishes, the stiff, flexible stuff is all the skeleton they have, with one big exception: the teeth. That’s why most all we have of those giant Megalodon sharks are their rather imposing choppers (in fact, that’s what Megalodon means: mega (huge-***) + odon (tooth)).

As the video says, we know very little about them because they live in the deep sea. Here’s a reasonably good hierachy of the group (see right side of page); here you can see how they fit into the Tree of Life web project (look for Ateleopodomorpha).

What do you think that jelly nose is for, other than grossing out “sensitive viewers”? Anyone?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Psi Wavefunction September 25, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Well, it doesn’t have to be ‘for’ anything =D could be just a byproduct of calcified bone loss… I mean, why NOT have a jelly nose?

Jennifer Frazer September 25, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Or perhaps it starts out firm at the temperatures you see in the deep ocean (just a few degrees above freezing) and it melts on the way up . . .but no, it doesn’t have to be “for” anything, certainly. : )

Corinne October 18, 2009 at 5:30 am

Could it not be that we are assuming its a nose because other creatures have a nose between their eyes. It could be to make up the mass of the fish, to be a substitute for a gas filled swim bladder, giving it a body density just less than water? It is in very deep waters, this would aid its ease in swimming.

Rick October 18, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Gelatinous substances are found in the sensory organs of all species.

Michael February 13, 2010 at 2:48 am

there making this thing out to be something worst than it is like at the top this fish turns in to snot when it dies meaning there is hardly any thing left after it decompose just teeth.

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