Crazy See-Through Fish Wows Scientists

The "barreleye" fish is clearly amazing

By Caitlin Millat
|  Wednesday, Feb 25, 2009  |  Updated 10:07 AM EDT
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MBARI

The "barreleye" fish have see-through heads that allow them to visually track their prey, scientists discovered Monday.

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This fish is bananas!

The "barreleye" fish gives a new meaning to "clear-headed" -- members of the central California species Macropinna microstoma have fully transparent skulls filled with a jelly-like fluid that scientists discovered this week allows the fish 360-degree vision.

You read that right, transparent skulls.

Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute announced Monday that they had solved a nearly 50-year mystery behind the fish, explaining that the neon green, bulbous eyes inside their see-through heads can fully rotate - dispelling previous claims that their eyes were stuck in "tunnel vision."

The eyes of the barreleye fish are extremely light-sensitive, so the fish tend to swim close to the depths of the ocean - making it hard to study the species, researchers said.

Newly developed vehicles designed for deep-sea research allowed the scientists access to the bottom-dwellers. They carefully brought one fish ashore and determined they had been wrong for nearly half a century about the fish's sight capabilities.

The barreleyes also have flat fins that let them remain motionless in the water - any sudden or intense movement can upset their fragile "headgear." 

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