Behold the terrifying (yet appealingly rainbow-colored) maw of death of a vicious undersea predator. This is Neoclinus blanchardi commonly known as “the sarcastic fringehead.”  Though the mouth of the sarcastic fringehead may evokes medieval hellmouth illuminations, in the real world the fish is not particularly terrifying to us humans.  The largest specimens only grow to 30 centimeters in length (about a foot).  They live in the Pacific Ocean down the California coast from San Francisco to Baja.  These fish are truly coastal—they can be found in waters from 3 to 73 metres (9.8 to 239.5 ft) deep.  They hide in crevices, empty shells, and sundry other niches.  Thanks to their huge mouths they eat anything smaller than themselves.


The sarcastic fringehead (Neoclinus blanchardi)

Like that one guy at work, the fringehead is noted for having a big mouth and displaying aggressive territorial behavior.  Male fringeheads frequently tussle over prime spots.  They have a have a unique means of resolving these disputes.  Both fish expand their colorful mouths to the fullest extent possible and then press them together.  As in contemporary politics, whoever has the biggest mouth is the victor.

Sarcastic Fringehead (1) - Copy