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Any of about 210 species of marine fishes (order Lophiiformes) named for their method of fishing for prey. The foremost spine of the dorsal fin is located on the head and is modified into a fishing rod tipped with a fleshy bait. Prey fishes attracted to this lure stray close enough for the anglerfish to swallow them. Often bizarre in form, anglerfishes are also characterized by small gill openings and by limblike pectoral and (in some species) pelvic fins. Most species inhabit the sea bottom. In some species the small male bites into the larger female's body, his mouth fuses with the skin, and the bloodstreams of the two become permanently connected.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on anglerfish, visit Britannica.com.