A Deep Sea Fish Which Can Turn on the Light at Pleasure.
Scientists have recently introduced a novelty in the finny world in the shape of a linophryne but it is a deal easier to call it by its every day name — the torchfish. He is a deep sea fish, carrying on his nose an organ which he can illuminate with a phosphorescent light or extinguish it at pleasure. He does not use his lantern to guide him on his pathless course in the dark depths of ocean or enable him to look around him, but when meal time comes he lights up to attract smaller fishes, which, mistaking the lantern for a phosphorescent insect, dart straight for it, only to find their way into the capacious jaws of linophryne lucifer. The mode in which the lantern is lighted and extinguished is not yet clearly understood. Nikola Tesla, the eminent electrician, is of the opinion that if such a fish exists, and if it has the attributes credited to it, it is very strange that neither Lord Rayleigh nor Professor S. P. Langley had made any mention of it in their researches. Mr. Tesla is also of the opinion that if the phosphorescent does exist it is not of an electrical origin.
G. Brown Goode, assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, writes of the torch-fish, “It is not positively known that the organ on the nasal filament of linophryne is luminous, although it appears probable. The idea that the fish has the power of illuminating it at pleasure is, so far as I know, purely conjectural, the idea having been suggested by Dr. Gunather, of the British museum. I think no one has seriously supposed that the phosphorescence is due to an electrical source.”