Till Death Do Us Part … … Or Maybe Not

Ever thought of what would lead to a union beyond death? Love? Maybe, but in the case of the deep-sea anglerfish (Photocorynus spiniceps), “practicality” is probably a better reason.

Scientists who first discovered the deep-sea anglerfish were puzzled by the fact that they only found female species before discovering that the males are actually “fused” as an extra part of the in an attempt to fertilize the females. (Munk, 2000) This sexual behavior of the anglerfish boils down to the practicality of such an act. In the deep-sea, it is hard for the smaller males to find the females in the dark and thus will attach themselves by biting onto the females when they find one. The blood vessels of the two individuals fuses together and the male starts feeding of the females through such a connection.(ibid) This saves them the effort to feed, allowing them to concentrate on their sole purpose of fertilizing the female. Therefore the body parts of the males will start to degenerate due to their lack of use and what is left attached to the female is essentially their reproductive organ which technically turns the female into a hermaphrodite capable of fertilizing herself. (Armstrong, 2005)

The female will then coordinate the time in releasing her eggs and sperms from the “male” which will then result in fertilization before the eggs floats to the surface of the water to await hatching. (Dimijian, 2005) “Fidelity” you ask? Well, the answer is NO, since the union is out of practicality; a female can carry up to 6 “males” on its body ensuring no lack of sperms. (Jolles, 2010) And who benefits from these unions of practicality that’s bonds the individuals beyond death? I would say both, since the females get the convenience of “self-fertilizing” herself without looking for a mate and the males gets to leech off the females and get their genes passed on.

    Source: http://mudfooted.com/deep-sea-angler-fish-bizarre-reproduction/


Armstrong, W. (2005). Sexual Suicide”Self-Destructive” Behavior in Males Of Some Animals. Wanye’s World Volume 7 (Number 1) .

Gregory G. Dimijian, M. (2005). Evolution of sexuality: biology and behavior. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 18(3) , 244-258.

Jolles, J. (2010, March 29). The Deep-Sea Angler Fish and Its Bizzare Reproduction. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from Mudfooted Discovering our Weird and Fascinating World: http://mudfooted.com/deep-sea-angler-fish-bizarre-reproduction/

Munk, O. (2000). Histology of the fusion area between the parasitic male and the female in the deep-sea anglerfish Neoceratias spinifer Pappenheim, 1914 (Teleostei, Ceratioidei). Acta Zoologica, Volume 81, Issue 4 , 315-324.