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True-ish (and Hilarious) Facts About the Anglerfish

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Anglerfish and comedy always seemed like a natural pairing. But it took internet humorist Ze Frank to bring the two together in one delicious dish. The natural history documentary parody series “True Facts About …” by Frank has become a minor youtube sensation. I’d seen one of his works before “True Facts About Land Snails” via David Winter at The Atavism. But my very own sister pointed me to the work of genius that is “True Facts About the Angler Fish”.


My sister can’t stop laughing at the line, “Sadly, the shrimps and their vanity pay the ultimate price ….”

As you can see, not all anglerfish are deep sea denizens. Some of these fish — particularly the brightly-colored ones and the flat ones — are types of anglerfish called frogfish or monkfish that can live in shallow water on continental shelves. So in spite of the inferences you might have drawn from other documentaries, not all anglers live in inky blackness and sport glowy glowy bacteria in their wavy thing.

Frank has an entire line of these videos over at his youtube channel. If this made you laugh, you might want to check out some of his other winking vids, such as “True Facts About the Naked Mole Rat” and “True Facts About the Dung Beetle“. Though irreverent, there’s some not-bad science sprinkled into these shorts. Pay attention and you just might learn something good. Though some traditionalists might take issue with their tone or content, if these clips reach a crowd that would not otherwise consume natural history or science, then in my opinion, that’s a job well done.

Coincidentally, when Edith Widder discussed the same photo of the angler fish seen at :25 above in her TED talk (which you’ve no doubt seen by now, right?), she noted that the male anglerfish had had the good sense to attach himself to his babe in a way that he doesn’t actually have to look at her. Not bad for a pair of gonads.

Jennifer Frazer About the Author: Jennifer Frazer is a AAAS Science Journalism Award-winning science writer. She has degrees in biology, plant pathology/mycology, and science writing, and has spent many happy hours studying life in situ. Follow on Twitter @JenniferFrazer.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. M Tucker 7:24 pm 03/28/2013

    The female anglerfish is a marvel of evolution. They have worked out the whole cohabitation with the male of the species issue. Females win! The female does not have to worry about any nasty male habits that might complicate things like eating the young and she needn’t worry about how she looks. The male is really only needed for his gonads so he has completely cooperated by mating in a way that disintegrates the male leaving only the gonads. Brilliant!

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  2. 2. jtdwyer 7:56 pm 03/28/2013

    Reminds me of my first wife! Fortunately, I was uncooperative…

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  3. 3. Jo McGraw 8:48 am 04/22/2013

    This made my Monday morning!

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