Daggertooth, Anotopterus pharao

The daggertooth is found on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada, and ranges north into Arctic waters. The body of the adult daggertooth is dark grey to brownish-yellow on top and yellowish-white to silver below, with silvery sides. Its pectoral fins, gill membranes, caudal fin, and the tips of it jaws are black. Young daggertooths begin life as transparent fish, but darken as they grow. Its French name, pharaon, alludes to the projection on its lower jaw which resembles the false beard worn by Egyptian pharaohs. They live for six or more years, reaching a length of 146 cm and a weight of 1.65 kg. Daggertooths are also hermaphrodites.

Two characteristic features of the daggertooth are its lack of scales and a dorsal fin, and the presence of a large adipose fin. Although its strong, blade-like teeth give it a ferocious appearance, the daggertooth is quite fragile, with a delicate skeleton and easily-damaged skin.

Daggertooths play an important role in the food web. They are eaten by many other species, including Greenland halibut, Atlantic cod, tunas, and whales. In turn, they prey on various fishes, including each other! They are significant predators of sockeye salmon, which they capture by first using their knifelike teeth to slice through muscles and disable their prey. Although the daggertooth’s body is long and thin, its stomach is expandable, allowing it to consume such large prey.