Strange Creature Washes Ashore In Texas (Photos)

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Something strange washed ashore when Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast.

While strolling on a beach in Texas City, photographer Preeti Desai came across a dead sea creature which has proven to be quite a mystery, Mashable reports.

"It was just so unexpected," she said, as quoted by Earth Touch News Network. "When I saw the mouth I thought no way was it a lamprey. It looked like something that came from deeper waters. So I took a couple photos and put it out into the Twitterverse, figuring it would deliver. And it did!"

Dr. Andrew Thaler, a marine science and conservation consultant, was the first to chime in. "Hard to tell given position and decomposition," he said, "but teeth and body shape makes me think some kind of eel."

Desai replied: "Now that you point it out, I totally see the eel shape. It was just so unexpected. Happy to take any other thoughts though."

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Thaler referred the question to Dr. Solomon David, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Nicholls State University.

"My current research focuses on ecology and evolution of gars and other ancient fishes, and how that research can be applied to better understanding human disease and development," explains David on his website. "Additional projects involve conservation of Great Lakes migratory fishes, 'Ancient Sport Fish' (e.g. gars and bowfins), and peripheral populations of species. I also communicate science through traditional and social media to raise awareness of the value of aquatic ecosystems and freshwater biodiversity."

He agreed that it might be some sort of eel, "but not a moray, given it appears to have had pectoral fins."

Eel specialist Dr. Kenneth Tighe, a biologist with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, also chimed in.

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He tentatively identified it as "Aplatophis Chauliodus," a type of fangtooth eel which inhabits waters between 100 and 300 feet deep, mostly tucked away in burrows.

Tighe did not rule out the possibility of it belonging to another family -- the garden and conger eels -- but thinks the large teeth rule out most species of that variety.

"It might be Bathyuroconger vicinus or Xenomystax congroides," he added. "All three of these species occur off Texas and have large fang-like teeth. Too bad you can't clearly see the tip of the tail. That would differentiate between the ophichthid and the congrids."

Whatever it is, it is suspected to have died as a result of the rough winds and strong currents associated with Hurricane Harvey.

Sources: Mashable, Earth Touch News Network / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: Preeti Desai/Twitter via Mashable

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