Episode 305 – Sarcastic Fringehead: Sea Grouch

“…and today…yeah, we’re talking about a really beautiful animal… But more on that later.”

They say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but you need more than wit to stake your claim in the animal kingdom. The ocean is a vast place, so you wouldn’t think that finding a place to live would be hard. But in a coral reef, there are so many animals vying for space that real estate comes at a premium. The sarcastic fringehead is the ogre of the ocean, vehemently defending its home with a mouth straight out of a sci-fi horror movie where it greets others with a brotherly kiss. But being a grouchy homebody is how this fish survives here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Description of the Sarcastic Fringehead

  • The sarcastic fringehead has a large head that is mostly mouth with bulging top-set eyes. 
  • They have long bodies adorned with a mohawk style dorsal fin that runs all the way to the tail.
  • They also have large fan-shaped pectoral fins that lay flat against their sides or stick out like dumbo.

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words Measure Up into ldtaxonomy at gmail dot com. We don’t have a new Measure Up intro! 


  • 30 centimeters (12 in) long
  • How many Fringeheads go into the Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII EWB?
  • Hint: The Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII is an ultra-luxury car that debuted in 2017. It sells for over $500,000 with custom models selling for over $1million.
  • 19.6 Fringeheads. The Rolls-Royce is 235.82 in (5.990 m).


  • 3 to 73 meters (10 to 240 ft)
  • How many of the max depths of Lake Okeechobee go into the living depth of the sarcastic fringehead?
  • Hint: Lake Okeechobee is the second largest natural freshwater lake in the contiguous U.S. after Lake Michigan. In 1926, Lake Okechobee was hit by a hurricane that killed 300 people and just two years later, the Okeechobee hurricane of 1928 killed thousands more. 
  • 20 max depths. The max depth of the lake is only 12 feet (3.7 meters).

Fast Facts about the Sarcastic Fringehead

Fringeheads are found off the Pacific Coast of North America around rocks and coral reefs.

Females lay eggs in rock crevices and shells. However, they may also occupy man-made objects like cans. Male fringeheads guard the eggs once they are laid. 

Fringeheads have two frills on each side of their mouths that can open up like it’s trying to intimidate Newman.

They eat crabs and fish that they can get their mouth around, but they love to munch on squid during the squid spawning season. 

Major Fact: What Are You Doing In My Swamp

  • Shrek is best known for being a farting onion who just wants to live a donkey-free life in his swamp (as do we all)
  • And the sarcastic fringehead is one such onion. While some animals can be called “gregarious,” this is not the case for the fringehead
  • Once it sets up shop in a small alcove or shell, or discarded can of Campbell’s chunky pub-style chicken pot pie soup, that shop can be subject to border disputes
  • There are a lot of animals in a typical reef from fish to crustaceans to cephalopods that can find themselves in sovereign territory either intentionally or unintentionally
  • When it sees an invader, shrek will harass it relentlessly until it leaves. Many of these animals eat the same food that the fringehead eats, so eliminating competition is primary. Plus, the ladies love a homeowner so there’s that.
  • If the invader is another fringehead, an epic rap battle ensues
  • They open their massive mouth flaps like the predator or demagorgon, mash them together, and try to indimidate/push their opponent out of their zone
  • Eventually, the larger fish will be able to close its mouth around the smaller one, establishing dominance and effectively winning the battle. So they size each other up like MMA fighters at a press conference until the big boy gives a confident smooch and walks away with the loser’s house and probably his girlfriend.
  • Unfortunately, their ridiculous mouths make it impossible to suction feed like other blennies so it’s harder to feed.
  • As an aside, “sarcastic” supposed to come from the Greek “sarkazein” which means to tear flesh”, a reference to their aggressive behavior

Ending: So find your home, defend your swamp, and definitely attack your neighbors (he said sarcastically) like the sarcastic fringehead here in LDT.