The Abyss: Ipnopidae

Written by Jonathan Wojcik

   Though its body is little over a foot in length, The eyeless "tripod fish" Bathypterois grallator stands up to a meter off the sea floor on three fins with incredibly elongated tips. Swimming only when necessary, it spends most of its time standing in a single spot, eating whatever tiny creatures may bump into its outstretched front fins - a feeding tactic more commonly seen in sessile invertebrates, such as anemones, crinoids or barnacles. When a tripod fish does decide to swim, its "legs" lose their rigidity and trail behind it like soft tails. How the appendages go from flaccid to stiff is unknown, but perhaps they're pumped with fluid when the fish wants to rest, not unlike certain other things in nature that can stiffen. Unusually for a vertebrate, tripods are hermaphrodites and capable of self fertilization.

   A close relative of the tripod fish lacks its unusual feeding method, but compensates with an oddity all its own; grideyes have never been observed alive and their habits are largely unknown, as is the purpose of their incredibly strange sight organs. These flat, grid-like structures call to mind the eyes of an insect, and emit a vivid glow of unknown function.