It was identified as a sheepshead fish and actually gets its name because its mouth looks like the mouth of a sheep.
Imagine you go out on a fishing trip and are trying to relax by the sea as you wait to reel in your catch. After the long wait, your fishing pole finally jerks downwards and you are excited to see what you've caught. You then come face to face with a fish that looks like it swallowed your grandpa's dentures. Well, that's exactly what happened in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. A fisherman managed to capture a big fish with an even bigger smile at Nag's Head, by Jennette's Pier. Beachgoers could not help but be in awe of the bizarre-looking fish.
The fish was caught by Nathan Martin, a regular on the pier. It was identified as a sheepshead fish. Even though the front teeth and the molars of the fish look very humanlike, it actually gets its name because its mouth looks like the mouth of a sheep. Their teeth are one of their defining features. When a sheepshead fish is just 4.5 mm long, sharp and thick teeth begin to appear, and as soon as the fish becomes about 15 mm long, all incisors appear, as per Science ABC. At the same time, its rear teeth develop into adult molars. The teeth help them chomp down on their prey.
An image of sheepshead fish caught by Martin was shared by Jennette's Pier. In the post, they wrote: A happy Nathan Martin of South Mills caught this nice toothy 9 lb. sheepshead yesterday. They also shared another picture with the fish's teeth and captioned it with the hashtag, "Big teeth, big times." Martin went up to the pier with hopes to snag a sheepshead fish and was successful. "It's a very good fight when you're fighting on the line, it's a really good catch, and it tastes very good," he said, as per the BBC. Facebook users couldn't help but have a little fun with the fish.
One person wrote: I know people who would love to have that many teeth. Lol. Melissa Aparo commented, Sheepsheads are also notorious bait stealers, too. At least for me. But when you can catch them, yummmmm. Perhaps this is why the fish is assumed to be somewhat elusive. But it is actually very commonly found in North and South America. Another person joked saying, Is this where dentures come from? Martin is planning on hanging the fish on a wall to show it off with all its toothy glory. Many social media users suggested eating it, however, because it is one of the best-tasting fish.
Yes, the pacu. They are freakin' weirdos, even for fish. Also sheepsheads, on the right here, which are even stranger. As you can see, they have several rows of human-looking teeth!— Helen Noble 👀 of House Moderna ⚖️ (@BoobPunchTina) August 2, 2021
Photos from Creative Commons and Virginia Institute of Marine Science, respectively. pic.twitter.com/vaes3Ihehh
The fish is an omnivore and is known for its hard mouth and several rows of molars which it uses to help it crush the shells of its prey, which include eating barnacles and hard-shelled animals like oysters, clams, and crabs as per 9 News. “Evidence strongly suggested that oral jaw crushing force was an important determinant of diet in these fishes,” L. P. Hernandez from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University and P. J. Motta from the Department of Biology at the University of South Florida in a 1997 issue of the Journal of Zoology, said, as per Scientific American. “There was a significant correlation between increased force production and increased durophagous [shell-crushing] habit. Studies such as this one speak directly to the relationship between maximum functional potential and actual patterns of resource use.”
This is Gunnz a local angler in my area I want to share with you all pictures of what a sheepshead looks like🎣😁This is one interesting species. I’ve caught a few as well. They are delicious! Look at them teeth 😳 pic.twitter.com/1e1PeFYcUZ— Texas Fishing Gal (@TexasFishingGa2) July 31, 2021
Last year, a doctored image of a fish with plump, human-like lips and teeth went viral on the internet. While the lips are very much real, the human-like teeth were not. The fish was identified as triggerfish but David Booth, a marine ecologist at the University of Technology, Sydney clarified to CNET, "Their teeth are large but not human-like, so yes the pictures do look fake!" He added, "Their very strong teeth can remove a finger!"