C. L. Hubbs, 1958
The red-lipped batfish or Galapagos batfish (Ogcocephalus darwini) is a fish of unusual morphology found around the Galapagos Islands and off Peru at depths of 3 to 76 m (10 to 249 ft). Red-lipped batfish are closely related to rosy-lipped batfish (Ogcocephalus porrectus), which are found near Cocos Island off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. This fish is mainly known for its bright red lips. Batfish are not good swimmers; they use their highly adapted pectoral fins to "walk" on the ocean floor. When the batfish reaches maturity, its dorsal fin becomes a single spine-like projection (thought to function primarily as a lure for prey). Like other anglerfish, the red-lipped batfish has a structure on its head known as illicium. This structure is employed for attracting prey.
The body color of the red-lipped batfish is light brown and a greyish colour on its back, with a white stomach. On the top side of the batfish there is usually a dark brown stripe starting at the head and going all the way down the back to the tail. The snout and horn of the red-lipped batfish is a brownish color. As the name of the fish states, the batfish has bright, almost fluorescent, red lips. The color of the squamation of the red-lipped batfish is shagreen-like with a relatively smooth texture. The bucklers are concealed by a layer of fine spinules.
When compared to the porrectus, the red-lipped batfish has a shorter disk perimeter but higher fibre pectoral fin ray count. Regarding the number of scales along the lateral like, there are four to nine subopercular scales, six to nine on the cheek, usually. The red-lipped batfish has around 19-20 vertebrae.
Some may wonder where the fish gets its name from. Batfish get their name from their display. Batfish are said to resemble some characteristics that a bat possesses. However, the red-lipped batfish is not the only batfish in existence. All types of fish that are considered "batfish" have consolidated bodies. All batfish fall into one of two families: Ephippidae or Ogcocephalidae. Batfish that belong to the family Ephippidae typically have prolonged fins and parallel abridged bodies. On the other hand, batfish that belong to the Ogcocephalidae, like the red-lipped batfish, usually have transversely compressed bodies and don't have normal sized fins.
The red-lipped batfish reaches up to 20.3 cm (8.0 in) in length.
Red-lipped batfish are not typical saltwater fish, in fact they are far from it. From appearance, to physical ability they are far from ordinary. Batfish are not good swimmers; they are bottom dwellers that "walk" across the ocean floor instead of swimming. They have altered pectoral fins that enable them to "walk".
On the top of the batfish's head there is a special body part that extends outward called an illicium. After the red-lipped batfish fully matures, its dorsal fin becomes a single spine-like projection that comes out of the top of the head. The batfish uses the illicium as a way to lure prey near them.[unreliable source?]
The longlure angler fish also has an illicium on the top of its head. Much like the red-lipped batfish, the longlure angler fish also uses its illicium to hunt for prey.
At the top of its illicium is an esca. The esca emits a bright light and since these fish dwell in deep waters, the light lures other fish to where the batfish is positioned. The esca lures the prey over to the batfish which then allows it to eat those small creatures which fall into its trap.
Red-lipped batfish have extremely bright red lips, which allows people to distinguish them from other batfish. Marine biologists believe that the bright red lips of the red-lipped batfish may be used to enhance species recognition during spawning. Although they are very strange-looking, they are harmless to humans.
Red-lipped batfish can be found at depths of 3 to 76 m (10 to 249 ft), in the Pacific Ocean around the Galapagos Islands and off Peru. It has been noted before that a few specimens of red-lipped batfish were found in fish nets in California, but all these type of sightings are extremely rare, and could very well be another type of batfish. They are bottom dwellers, so they are usually found within the sand or ocean floor. Although they are considered shallow water forms, they occasionally come to the surface over deep water. They tend to associate themselves with the edges of reefs up to about 120 m deep.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2016). "Ogcocephalus darwini" in FishBase. January 2016 version.
- "Red-lipped batfish | Strange Animals". Strangeanimals.info. 2011-10-13. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
- "Red-Lipped Batfish". Aboutfishonline.com. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
- Hubbs, Carl (August 28, 1958). "Ogcocephalus darwini a new batfish endemic at the Galapagos Islands". Copeia. 1958 (3): 15. doi:10.2307/1440581.
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