This is the glorious flatworm, a gaudy invertebrate native to the tropical Indo-Pacific that has surely made more than one concerned diver check his tank mixtures to ensure that nobody laced his oxygen with LSD. Just watch this ridiculous, hypnotic thing in action:
Its spellbinding undulation, allowing it to effortlessly glide through the water like an anthropomorphized afghan, is accomplished thanks to countless hairs along its length that act as tiny paddles. In addition, its bright colors alert all but the stupidest would-be predators that it's poisonous and not to be eaten. This isn't actually the case (they're as harmless as can be), but still, we've never seen a creature that looked less like food. Or less like a creature. Seriously, this should not exist as a living thing:
It's mesmerizing. Stare at it too long and you soon won't want to do anything else. Just watch it dancing endlessly through the water until you want to go join it, under the sea. Forever.
"Or at least until you drown in a hypnotic trance. I'm sort of indifferent after that."
Why, you could almost think they're beautiful ... until you watch one eat. They engulf their prey whole like a zombified gypsy shawl, then a tubelike appendage grinds the unfortunate victim into a pulpy, chewy goop. As for its after-dinner poop, it just pukes up anything it can't digest, since it doesn't have an anus and all.
And on the eighth day, God said, "Time to throw all my useless trash in the blender and see what happens."
The result is a scorpionfish, because hey, there's probably a scorpion in there somewhere, right? Granted, most types of scorpionfish are polite enough to at least look like fish. This is not the case, however, with the random assortment of nonsensical bric-a-brac called the Ambon scorpionfish.
You would be forgiven for thinking that's just some neglected sapling and not a poisonous, carnivorous terror of the deep. But it totally is -- what looks like dead leaves are actually its fins, and what looks like thick branches are actually ... antlers? Shit, we don't know. And if we can't figure it out, what hope do the poor other fish have? Based on this, not a whole lot:
Yep, just because Nature slapped Wilford Brimley's eyebrows onto a pile of cocktail umbrellas doesn't mean the Ambon still can't straight-up suck down a sizable fish like a goddamn spaghetti noodle. And since they're covered in poisonous spines (ah, that's why they're called scorpionfish), they could kill you, too. So try not to step on one, if you can even fucking identify what it is.
In fact, just to play it safe, never step on anything ever again.
The scorpionfish family isn't content with just one surreal-looking family member, though. Meet the weedy scorpionfish, a variant that's gaining popularity in the aquarium circuit, presumably among supervillains who mistake it for the long-lost purple kryptonite that will kill Superman for good this time.
K. Leonard, Aquarium of the Pacific
Or at the very least, something more interesting than sharks to slowly lower British superspies into tanks of.
Like its Ambon-y cousin, the weedy scorpionfish doesn't look at all like the species it identifies itself as on its tax form. A lot of times, it's even hard to tell which end of the fish contains the face.
Via Advanced Aquarist
Left to right, crazy toothless grandpa. Right to left, Eeyore.
And like its cousin, it too is covered in poisonous barbs and can kill you simply by hanging underfoot. So, happy swimming, we guess.
Related Reading: You can find crazier stuff underwater, like this gigantic Sarlacc. If you're in the mood for some real body horror check out this fish that looks like the Predator. If you're not still horrified enough, read our list of terrifying prehistoric creatures that are still around.