Thursday 19 July 2018

This fish has human teeth and it’s freaking people out

The marine creature uses its strong jaws to crush crabs and other shelled animals.

Sheepshead fish.
Sheepshead fish.

By Nilima Marshall, Press Association

It’s not every day you get to see a fish showing off its pearly whites, so when biologists spotted one off the coast of South Carolina, they decided to have some fun by posting a photo of it on Facebook.

Wildlife experts at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources shared the image of the aquatic creature to see if the public could identify it.

Accompanying the photo was a cryptic riddle that said: “You’ll need a saltwater fishing license to catch me! I like to hang out near rocks, jetties, reefs, and even bridges.

**What is it Wednesday** You’ll need a saltwater fishing license to catch me! I like to hang out near rocks, jetties,...

Posted by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday, May 9, 2018

“I’m also known as the convict fish because of my black and white stripes.

“The coolest thing about me? I have human-like incisors and molars to help crush my food. I like shrimp and oysters just like you do!”

Several people responded to the post with many of them correctly guessing the creature to be a sheepshead fish.

Some found themselves freaking out a little, with one user saying “it looks like it stole someone’s dentures”, while another added that the fish gave them “the creeps” with its “people teeth”.

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Sheepshead.

It is unclear how the fish got its name, but sheepshead fish can grow up to 35 inches (50cm) long, and weigh as much as 21 pounds (9kg).

Erin Weeks, a spokeswoman for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, revealed the species can be spotted across the western Atlantic.

She added: “Here in South Carolina, they’re one of the most popular fish to target in estuarine and nearshore waters.

“They’re usually found hanging around structures likes docks, jetties and reefs, where they’re most likely to find their preferred foods.”

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Sheepshead.

And as for its human-like teeth?

She said: “One reason we share strikingly similar teeth with sheepshead is that our diets are both omnivorous – sheepshead use their strong jaws to crush oysters, crabs, and other shelled animals, but they also eat algae and other plant material.

“Anglers here use that wide-ranging diet to their advantage and hook sheepshead with fiddler crabs or shrimp, which are easy to find on the South Carolina coast.

“If you can get past the unusual incisors, the sheepshead is a real treat, with firm, light-tasting meat.”

Press Association

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