April 25, 2014

Ipnops murrayi
Ipnops murrayi
According to the literature Ipnops is the only vertebrate in which both the eyes and the optic nerves are completely missing. The present investigation has however shown, beyond doubt, that the peculiar organs on the head of Ipnops, which are generally held to be phosphorescent organs, are in reality modified eyes.–O. Munk. “The Eyes of Ipnops Murrayi”

Vision is important to nearly all animals, so much so that only animals who live in caves with no source of light are completely blind. Even bats, who rely primarily on echolocation for orienting themselves and finding prey, have some vision.

In the deepest depths of the ocean, where no light can penetrate, fish use a biological flashlight. Called bioluminescence, this cool light, usually in the blue-green spectrum, is manufactured by marine bacteria and resides in the gut of the fish. It is believed that the fish have some control over this light, which is used to hunt, lure prey, attract a mate, or aid in coordination of the school.

One of the strange fishes at the bottom of the sea is the ipnops. Like most bottom dwelling fish the ipnops’s eyes are on the top of its head, not on the sides, and these are round tubular eyes poking out of a flat head with transparent bones. Quoting from Wikipedia “The purpose of these structures is debated — they are light-sensitive and may serve to detect bioluminescent prey; it has also been proposed that the organs themselves may be luminescent and act as lures.” The ipnops lives in the very darkest regions of the sea, from the bathypelagic to the abyssopelagic or abyssal zone. Truly these animals reside in the abyss.

I have not had the occasion to use ipnops magically, but I think they may have some interesting, if specialized, applications. For one thing, “ipnops” sounds like a magical word. This would be a good animal to call on energetically when you find yourself “in so deep” that you cannot “see your way.”
Ipnops agassizii. Photo R.B. Reyes.
Ipnops agassizii. Photo R.B. Reyes.


Munk, O. “The Eyes of Ipnops Murrayi.” Copenhagen: Institute for Comparative Anatomy and Zoological Technique, 1878.

Sinclair, Sandra. How Animals See: Other Visions of Our World. New York: Facts on File, 1985.

Wikipedia, Ipnops.

http://media.eol.org/content/2009/05/19/16/68617_orig.jpg (Photo R. B. Reyes) Ipnops Agassizii

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/17/Ipnops.JPG/640px-Ipnops.JPG Ipnops Murrayi