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Scientists Discover Bizarre Faceless Fish (Photo)

| by Lauren Briggs

Ocean researchers were stunned to discover a 15-inch long deep-sea fish with no face, the likes of which had not been seen for more than 100 years.

The fish, officially named the Faceless Cusk, was found during the Memorial Day weekend more than 13,000 feet underwater, reported The Guardian.

The last time anyone spotted the creature in the area was in 1873, when a British ship off the coast of Papua New Guinea came across the fish, said Dr Tim O'Hara. O'Hara led an expedition of Museums Victoria scientists to find marine invertebrates with the Australian government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

"This little fish looks amazing because the mouth is actually situated at the bottom of the animal so, when you look side-on, you can't see any eyes, you can't see any nose or gills or mouth," O'Hara said on May 31, speaking on a satellite phone from his research ship, according to The Guardian. "It looks like two rear-ends on a fish, really."

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The only facial features that this creature has on its head are two nostrils, putting the grayish fish at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to looks. Researchers on the month-long expedition, which began on May 15, were thrilled to spot it nonetheless.

"The experts tell me that about a third of all specimens coming on board are new totally new to science," added O'Hara. "They aren't all as spectacular as the faceless fish but there's a lot of sea fleas and worms and crabs and other things that are totally new and no one has seen them ever before."

The 27 scientists, 13 technicians and 20 crew members aboard have been collecting animal and sediment samples from the ocean floor using a metal device that resembles a sled. Attached is a video camera that records footage of the creatures that pass by.

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"On the video camera we saw a kind of chimera that whizzed by -- that's very, very rare in Australian waters," Di Bray of Museums Victoria told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "We've seen a fish with photosensitive plates that sit on the top of its head, tripod fish that sit up on their fins and face into the current."

But the faceless fish was "kind of the highlight so far," she said, adding that the fish does actually have eyes "way under the surface," but they aren't visible to humans.

O'Hara said that he hopes to use recorded data to study climate change and the impact it will have on future generations.

"We know nothing about the abyss, and we need to know," said O'Hara. "We're custodians of that piece of the Earth -- lots of things could happen to the deep sea with climate change."

Sources: The Guardian, Australian Broadcasting Corporation / Photo credit: John Pogonoski via Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Kat/Flickr

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