Black Devilfish (or The Angler Fish) by Lynnette Shelley

Black Devilfish (or The Angler Fish) by 

6 × 9 inches, ink / tea / with a touch of white pencil on 140 lb. cold-press watercolor paper

In the truth is stranger than fiction department (from Wikipedia, but documented elsewhere as well):

Some anglerfishes, like those of the Ceratioid group (Ceratiidae), employ an unusual mating method. Because individuals are presumably locally rare and encounters doubly so, finding a mate is problematic. When scientists first started capturing ceratioid anglerfish, they noticed that all of the specimens were females. These individuals were a few centimetres in size and almost all of them had what appeared to be parasites attached to them. It turned out that these “parasites” were highly reduced male ceratioids.

At birth, male ceratioids are already equipped with extremely well developed olfactory organs that detect scents in the water. The male ceratioid lives solely to find and mate with a female. They are significantly smaller than a female angler fish, and may have trouble finding food in the deep sea. Furthermore, the growth of the alimentary canals of some males becomes stunted, preventing them from feeding. These features necessitate his quickly finding a female anglerfish to prevent death. The sensitive olfactory organs help the male to detect the pheromones that signal the proximity of a female anglerfish. When he finds a female, he bites into her skin, and releases an enzyme that digests the skin of his mouth and her body, fusing the pair down to the blood-vessel level. The male then slowly atrophies, first losing his digestive organs, then his brain, heart, and eyes, and ends as nothing more than a pair of gonads, which release sperm in response to hormones in the female’s bloodstream indicating egg release. This extreme sexual dimorphism ensures that, when the female is ready to spawn, she has a mate immediately available.4 Multiple males can be incorporated into a single female.

Having a great love animals, fairytales, and world mythology, Pennsylvania artist Lynnette Shelley fuses these influences into her strikingly unique illustrations. Her artwork strikes a primal chord in many viewers, with almost Jungian associations to the colors and shapes. Her artworks have been likened to images from an undiscovered ancient civilization or culture.

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  • Bunny Clarke
    Bunny Clarkeover 3 years ago

    Very cool creation and work. These are fascinating fish.

  • ☼Laughing Bones☾
    ☼Laughing Bones☾over 3 years ago

    these always horrified and amazed me, wonderful creation

  • thanks. The only consolation with these things is that they are only about five inches long. Imagine if they were as big as a shark or a whale? :O

    – Lynnette Shelley

  • marielito
    marielitoover 3 years ago


  • eoconnor
    eoconnorover 3 years ago

    WEell done work Lynette, a strange fish this is for sure interesting reading . Liz

  • Karirose
    Kariroseover 3 years ago

    So wonderfully done. Like how you used the swirls around the fish to look like water. The information you included is fascinating. :)

  • Fiery-Fire
    Fiery-Fireover 3 years ago

    Lynette – what a beautiful full of patterns devillish fishie you got :)
    Happy Halloween ;)

  • Hugh Fathers
    Hugh Fathersover 3 years ago

    Very nicely done!! . . .

  • RobertaMurray
    RobertaMurrayover 3 years ago

    Love this one! I have a thing for fish.

  • Michael Creese
    Michael Creeseover 3 years ago

    Love this one! The markings match the character of the fish so well.

  • Rhinovangogh
    Rhinovangoghover 3 years ago

    What a strange story! How cool is that? Great piece. You rock in twelve ways to Sunday! Cerebral art now??? :-) te hee, nice!

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