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Facts About Long-nosed Chimaera Fish

Akshay Chavan
Long-nosed chimaera fish are named after their long, prominent snouts. Some very interesting facts about the Rhinochimaeridae, or long-nosed chimaera fish, are given here.

Did You Know?

Some scientists believe that chimaera fish may be oldest group of fish that are alive today.
Oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth's surface, and play a vital role in controlling weather patterns and sustaining life. However, it is widely believed that we have explored less than 5% of the oceans around the globe. In fact, we know more about the surface of Mars or the Moon than about the oceans on our own planet. It's then safe to say that 95% of the remaining ocean floor has quite a few surprises in store for us.
This includes many strange species of plants, animals, and fish which we haven't discovered as yet. Long-nosed chimaera fish are one such example, which created quite a flutter when a rare specimen was recently caught off Canada's Baffin Island. The following facts will help us learn more about long-nosed chimaera fish.

Appearance and Structure

► These are cartilaginous fish, which means that their skeleton is made of stratified cartilage, rather than bone.

► They are brown to grayish-white in color, with a scaleless skin (like rays and sharks) that is covered with a slimy substance.

► These fish can be anywhere from 2 to 5 feet in length, depending on the species, and have jaws studded with sharp, rodent-like teeth.
► They resemble other fish of the order 'chimaera', though they have a unique, paddle-shaped snout, which is long and tapering, and a long, whip-like tail.

► Their snout is covered with sensitive nerve endings, which help them find and locate their prey. This is because of the reduced visibility near the dark ocean floor.
► Their first dorsal (on the back) fin has a sharp spine, which is mildly venomous. This is used by the fish to defend itself.

► Like all chimaera fish, their pectoral fins are wide and flattened, making it seem as if they are 'flying' through the water.

Evolutionary History

► They are related to sharks and stingrays. Despite having the same ancestors as sharks, long-nosed chimaera fish evolved separately from them about 400 million years ago.

► They were present in the oceans even before the arrival of dinosaurs, and haven't changed at all since then.

Feeding Habits

► Long-nosed chimaera mostly feed on benthic invertebrates (living on the seabed) like shrimp, crabs, and sea urchins, apart from other fish.

Distribution and Habitat

► They are mostly found in tropical and temperate oceans all around the world, at depths ranging from 600 to 6,500 feet.

► Though they do not live in the cold Arctic waters, two specimens have been found by fishermen in the Davis and Hudson Straits of Canada. One of the fishermen posted images of the fish online, which immediately became a rage owing to its bizarre appearance.
► Very little is known about these fish, as they have not been studied well, owing to the difficulty of accessing the depths at which they are found.


► These fish are oviparous, which means that they lay eggs, rather than give birth to live infants. Their eggs are leathery and spindle or horn-shaped.

► The females are larger than the males. For this reason, the males have structures called claspers, which help them hold on to the larger female during mating.


► Eight different species of long-nosed chimaera have been discovered, which are distributed across three genera (subdivisions in classification) - Harriotta, Neoharriotta, and Rhinochimaera.

► They form a family of fish called the Rhinochimaeridae. This name is derived from a mythological Greek monster called the chimera, which was made up of different parts of a goat, lion, and snake. Thus, the term Rhinochimaeridae means 'a long-nosed monster'.

Threat Level

► These fish are considered 'Least Concern (LC)' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This means that they are not in danger of becoming extinct, though this requires more research for confirmation.

► According to the IUCN, the biggest threat to these fish is getting accidentally caught by commercial deep-sea trawlers.

Common Names

► They are known by a number of names, like ratfish, bigspine spookfish, bentnose rabbitfish, and ghost sharks.
While little is known about long-nosed chimaera fish at present, with rapid improvement in deep-sea research, we might be able to uncover more of their secrets. However, the full impact of human activities on their survival is still to be understood.