#WeirdAnimalWednesday: The Red-Lipped Batfish is Always Ready for a Night on the Town

posted: 07/07/15
by: Danny Clemens
Red-lipped batfish
Jupiter Images/thinkstock

When somebody says the word "fish", what's the first fish that comes to mind? Something along the lines of a picturesque tropical fish, suavely navigating a coral reef with nary a care in the world?

The red-lipped batfish (Ogcocephalus darwini) is not one of those fish.

Endemic to the Galapagos Islands, the red-lipped batfish has developed specialized pectoral and pelvic fins that it uses to waddle across the sea floor, looking more like an awkward lizard than a fish.

What it lacks in grace, however, it more than makes up for in glamor, showing off its flashy, red-hued lips to its ocean floor friends. When mating season rolls around, the batifsh turns human gender roles on its head: some biologists believe that male batfish flaunt their ruby red lips to attract females, although this has not been explicitly proven.

The batfish can grow to a length of 25 centimeters, and feeds on small invertebrates dwelling on the sea floor. Researchers believe that the fish secretes an irresistible fluid into the ocean water that attracts pray. Luckily for the batfish, it is "of no interest" to commercial fisheries, and the sole Galapagos Island population is thriving.

Unsurprisingly, the fish's scientific name (Ogcocephalus darwini) pays homage to -- you guessed it -- Charles Darwin. According to DiveAdvisor, the fish is a "powerful example of the fascinating forms life can take under the forces of natural selection".

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