Wednesday 16 May 2012

Sarcastic Fringehead

Image source
Sarcastic? Really? It may be "the lowest form of wit" but I certainly don't rise above a bit of sarcasm and I'm pretty sure my face is a little more deadpan when I indulge in such lowly pleasures.

This is the Sarcastic Fringehead. It's angry. Really angry. This is what happens when someone actually does blow their top.

Image source
Found on the Pacific coast of North America, the Sarcastic Fringehead is a kind of blenny. This is odd because blennies are usually small, shy, little things that keep themselves hidden away in crevices. This one is different.

They reach 30 cm (12 in) in length and while they still live in crevices and discarded shells, they're keen to leap out and scare the bejesus out of anything that encroaches on their territory.

This is when their special face is deployed. The ridiculously long maxilla bones in the upper jaw are extended outward to ensure their mouth can get just as grotesque as possible. If the cause of all this is another Sarcastic Fringehead, it will probably be doing exactly the same thing. It's their way of saying "hello, I'm sooooo pleased to meet you" *rolls eyes*.

If one of the rivals doesn't back down in horror at the sheer size of the other guy's gape (or the sudden realisation that they must look just like that), then passive aggression gives way to a face-fight as terrible mouth meets terrible mouth. Their faces are locked in combat like two naked and completely heterosexual Greek wrestlers.

Other creatures, including humans, receive the same treatment. If you're something that wasn't there when they last looked, you're in trouble. And if the face doesn't work, then the needle-like teeth are next. Some people use sarcasm as a kind of defence or attack. The Sarcastic Fringehead just uses its actual mouth. Which is sort of ironic.

Image: Ken Bondy via Flickr
This fury is of great use when the male is lumbered with the duty of protecting the eggs. The female lays them in a discarded shell or some other crevice. She then leaves because Sarcastic Fringeheads simply can't tolerate each other at all and it's better to part ways than inflict memories of that facial expression on the children.

All in all the Sarcastic Fringehead doesn't seem to be sarcastic at all. Then you might consider that "sarcastic" comes from a word that literally meant "to strip flesh", just as sarcophagus literally means "flesh-eating". I think whoever named this thing had a smile on his face. When it comes to wit, sarcasm isn't all bad.


Anonymous said...

I knew this fellow deserved a spot on Real Monstrosities! :-)

TexWisGirl said...

they look so sweet when not 'hulked' out!

Joseph JG said... You certainly got that right! Thanks for the suggestion!

@TexWisGirl: Yeh, they wouldn't look out of place in Sesame Street!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating Images! That images is so strange and look like mysterious. i can say that there are lots of weird things and species in the world.God job!

Joseph JG said...


Mrs. BerrySkittles said...

Hahah this is hilarious! ... "When not hulked-out" ahahah

Joseph JG said...

We all need a good hulk-out face! Perhaps we don't need to show quite so much of the inside of it, though.

Nikki O said...

Can you eat them?

Joseph JG said...

I've never heard of anyone eating them! Really, we can eat a lot of stuff, but whether it's tasty enough to want to is a different question.

Susan said...

Nikki: Depends... how hungry are you?