In a study published yesterday (June 5) in Matter, researchers analyzed the physical properties of the transparent teeth of the dragonfish (Aristostomias scintillans), an apex predator that lives at the bottom of the ocean. “Down at great depths there’s almost no light, and the little light there is comes from fish, such as the dragonfish, that have small photophores that generate light, attracting prey,” says coauthor Marc Meyers of University of California, San Diego in a press release. The authors report that the tooth structure reduces the amount of light scattered by the teeth.
“The dragonfish’s teeth are huge in proportion to its mouth—it’s like a monster from the movie Alien—and if those teeth should become visible, prey will immediately shy away. But we speculate that the teeth are transparent because it helps the predator,” says Meyers in the statement.
A. Velasco-Hogan et al., “On the nature of the transparent teeth of the deep-sea dragonfish (Aristostomias scintillans),” Matter, doi:10.1016/j.matt.2019.05.010, 2019.