The Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria has put on display a fish with a large head, small brain and unflattering name: a bony-eared assfish.
The deep-sea creature, about 30 centimetres long, was caught by scientists 10 years ago in Queen Charlotte Sound, off the north end of Vancouver Island.
Formally named Acanthonus armatus, the species is known to inhabit Pacific Ocean waters, but this is the first one caught off the coast of North America, said Gavin Hanke, the museum’s curator of vertebrate zoology.
“It is an ugly fish. That’s why I like it,” Hanke said. “It’s got a big bulbous head and a tapering body and flabby skin. It almost looks like a glorified tadpole. It felt very gelatinous and soft when we picked it up.
“It has a very large mouth, and off the back of the gills there are some very large spines that point backwards,” he said.
Hanke is unsure how the fish got its “ridiculous” moniker.
“There are some funny names out there for species, but that one takes the cake.”