This is a deep-sea dragonfish (Aristostomias scintillans). Researchers have been taking a very close look at its teeth because, well, they are particularly difficult to see, mainly because they are almost completely transparent.
Having see-through fangs, explains materials scientist Audrey Velasco-Hogan from the University of California, San Diego, in the US, is very likely an evolutionary adjustment to life in the inky blackness of the ocean. Combined with a dark body, they render the species pretty much invisible to prey.
“It’s an adaptation that, to our knowledge, has not yet been explored in detail,” says Velasco-Hogan.
“By studying why these teeth are transparent, we can better understand deep-sea organisms like the dragonfish and the adaptations they evolved to live in their environments.
“They spend most of their time sitting around with their jaws open, waiting for something to come by. Their teeth are always exposed, so it’s important that they are transparent so they don’t reflect or scatter any bioluminescent light from the environment.”
Writing in the journal Matter, Velasco-Hogan and her colleagues suggest the dragonfish’s teeth could serve as inspiration for the development of transparent ceramics.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.