Scientists are studying dragonfish to learn more about the hidden weapons that allow them to succeed in their hunting. Researchers found that these fish have tiny structures in their teeth. These structures have the ability to change into invisible daggers. It could be these hidden weapons that allow the dragonfish to surprise their prey.
Exploring the Teeth of a Dragonfish
The latest study on the teeth of a dragonfish was conducted by Marc Meyers, who is a materials scientist at the University of California, San Diego. The findings have been reported in Matter.
Dragonfish are small pencil-sized fish that live in the deep sea. They have a unique method of attracting young fish towards their mouths. In the darkness under the water, they have beardlike attachments that reflect light and lure the prey. Their transparent teeth do not gleam, however, so their prey are unaware of what they are swimming towards. The teeth remain difficult to see. Researchers have found that there are nanostructures within these teeth that limit how much light is scattered by the teeth.
Coauthor of the research paper, Marc Meyers, describes dragonfish as “mini-monsters of the ocean.” This is because of their clear daggers, hidden in the darkness, allowing these small predators to surprise their next meal.
The teeth of dragonfish are made up of a denser outer layer of a material that is similar to enamel. This lies on top of a layer of hard tissue known as dentin. Up to this point, the teeth are similar to those of other animals. The important extra feature is the presence of nanostructures in both layers of materials in dragonfish teeth.
The researchers used transmission electron microscopy to learn more about the structure of dragonfish teeth. The species Aristostomias scintillans was examined. Small crystals and nano-sized rods were found in the enamel and dentin. The small size limits the effect of reflecting light.