The horror of the black swallower, a deep sea predator

Originally published at: The horror of the black swallower, a deep sea predator | Boing Boing


I did that with pizza last night, and feeling a little stuffed still 14 hours on.


There are bigger ones in shallower waters:


I guess it doesn’t have that “you’re full” signal that we do, even if for us it is often sent too late. It needs to learn how to chew its food properly!

Also WTF sort of grammar is this?

…too large of a meal…

It's "too large a meal" @frauenfelder - I I know you didn't write this, Popkin did, but your name is at the top of the comments thread and Popkin cannot be @ed
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I wonder if it has some sort of sedative ability or if the geometry of biting an enclosing membrane, rather than normal, prey-shaped, stuff doesn’t work for most of the fish they eat?

Seems like being gnawed open from the inside would be a serious occupational hazard if there isn’t something keeping the target from biting you in the period before suffocation kicks in.


That whale though it was gorging on a gortons fisherman…

As a kid I had an ‘educational’(*) book on deep sea creatures. The illustrations were very spectacular. I was endlessly fascinated by this creature, the anglerfish and a fish which looked like it had our livingroom lampshade for a head (I later learned that this last one was mainly an effect of the limitations of the illustrator).

(*) probably ‘readers digest’ or something like that. If it were printed today it would be copypasted from wikipedia with no quality control whatsoever :smiley:

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Maybe it’s a regional colloquialism? I hear, see and use that construction pretty often in the Plains states. Wouldn’t that be related to the more common “That’s a hell of a _____”

I was running low on nightmare fuel. Thanks for this.

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Many citations are no doubt available to say it is indeed an American regional colloquialism. Even that it is wholly acceptable/accepted in some parts of the USA or in some sections of USAnian society.

I believe that even so, it is cited as informal and not good practice in written or formal English (or American).

However, the example you cite (‘a hell of a’) certainly is standard English - a noun modifying or describing a noun - and uses ‘of’ quite properly. E.g. ‘a hell of a mistake,’ ‘a giant of a man’, ’ a beast of a dog’.

But that is ‘noun / noun’. Where it is ‘adjective / noun’ there are two different forms:

Adjectives of quantity such as ‘much’, ‘more’, ‘less’, ‘enough’ and so on do use ‘of’ - e.g. ‘enough of a problem’ and ‘too much of a stretch’.

But with adjectives of degree such as ‘good/bad’, ‘big/small’, ‘long/short’, ‘little/large’ and so on, ‘of’ is not used in standard English. E.g. ‘too large a box’, ‘not that big an issue’.

I believe it is these two different usages that American English started to idiomatically confuse and the misuse has proliferated hugely since the advent of the 'net, even if it may date back much further as local idiom in some areas.

People will perhaps be along to cite sources that prove me wrong and say that this ‘of’ usage is just fine, and it is a living language and I should stop whining about it.

All I can say is that in formal and written English, to my eyes and ears this use of ‘of’ reads wrong, sounds wrong, jars harshly, and it creates, in those of us wot was brung up wth proper grammar, a real case of the heebie-jeebies, almost as bad as coming across a black swallower when you weren’t expecting one. It is a Pavlovian response and we can no more do anything about it than can those who use it stop doing so, it seems.

But then I was brought up to use English grammar, not American. :wink:

(I will manfully try to resist responding further as or when the counter-arguments and citations turn up below. The war on prepositions will not be won! And you can all get off my lawn while you’re at it, too.)

ETA too much derail - take any replies here please

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I’ll give that a pass as being perfectly cromulent idiomatic usage.


Lots of creatures in the deep sea are bioluminescent. For smaller animals that would rather not be seen, having very dark pigments helps make it less likely they’ll be noticed because of some prey shining out from inside their intestines.

This has been Serious Answers to Obvious Jokes, thank you in advance for forgiving me.


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