unicorn crestfish, Eumecichthys fiski (4)

photo: Matt Bierner via Flickr

unicorn crestfish, Eumecichthys fiski (1)

photo: Eric Woroch

Habitat: Worldwide distribution
Status: Data Deficient

You’re looking at the ultra rare and little-known Unicorn Crestfish (Eumecichthys fiski). First spotted offshore of Kalk Bay, South Africa, this elusive creature has a ribbon-like body measuring up to 59 inches in length with a horn-like projection set right above the eyes. Since it was first spotted, it has been seen in the Sea of Japan, southwest Florida, Clarion Island off Mexico, Hawaii, and India. It normally dwells at depths of around 1,000 meters (3,300 ft).

unicorn crestfish, Eumecichthys fiski (3)

photo: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

It’s ironic that not only does it look like a unicorn but it’s just as rare as one (they’re real ok, guys?!). The only thing the Unicorn Crestfish doesn’t have in common with the mythical beastie is its ability to shoot ink out of its butt (or cloaca for all my scientific folk out there). It’s able to expel a black fluid through an ink tube that runs parallel to its intestine. Much like an octopus, this inky trick aids the Unicorn Crestfish in avoiding predation. One known predator is the longnose lancetfish; one was found with a 55 cm (22 in) unicorn crestfish in its stomach!