Brace yourselves! Wildlife experts post photo of fish with startlingly human-like teeth

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has posted a photo online of a fish that has what appears to be human teeth.

                            Brace yourselves! Wildlife experts post photo of fish with startlingly human-like teeth
(Source: Getty Images)

There may be a lot of fish in the sea but none as creepy or as fascinating as the human-teethed creature whose photo was shared on Facebook by wildlife experts working with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. As if the photo wasn't intriguing enough, the post from Wednesday, May 9, came with a riddle in the caption.

“You’ll need a saltwater fishing license to catch me! I like to hang out near rocks, jetties, reefs, and even bridges. I’m also known as the convict fish because of my black and white stripes,” the riddle reads. “The coolest thing about me? I have human-like incisors and molars to help crush my food. I like shrimp and oysters just like you do!”

The post asked people to try and recognize the species. Quite a few people did manage to guess right. The creature is a Sheepshead fish. This creepy denizen of the water can grow to be as large as 35 inches and weigh as much as 21 pounds. Its jaw never stops developing, which means that older fish that have had access to a rich supply of food will have more powerful jaws than younger ones.

According to Science ABC, the Sheepshead fish has a hard mouth lined with stubby teeth that are surprisingly similar to human teeth. Sheepshead bay in New York is named after the critter though these unique fish are no longer found that far north, the Daily Mail reports. They are found in large numbers in southwest Florida.

They are found along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States. Nobody is entirely sure how the fish got its name. It has been speculated that it probably arose due to the similarity between the fish’s teeth and those of a sheep. Another theory is that it might have something to do with the fish's silhouette.

The Sheepshead fish is a member of the Sparidae family. Compared to the other members of the family, this big guy seems perfectly normal. Most members of the Sparidae family are hermaphrodites. This means that they change from male to female or vice versa at some point during their life cycle.

Another “relative” of the Sheepshead fish is the Salema porgy also known as the dreamfish. According to Scientific American, the gold-striped fish contains a chemical similar to the psychedelic substance Dimethyltryptamine. The fish is found in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and occasionally in the English channel.

The end result is that eating the fish can trigger terrifying hallucinations. It is believed that the dreamfish was used as a recreational drug as far back as during the time of the Roman Empire. The effects can last for 2-3 days. Thankfully, the Sheepshead fish does not have any harmful substances in its flesh.

In fact, they have been described as rather “delicious.” They prefer to inhabit mangroves, reefs, piers, jetties and rock pilings. They are notorious for stealing fishing bait. Adult Sheepshead fish hunt armoured prey like crabs and oysters that they crush with their powerful teeth.