Handfish: Pretty much exactly what they sound like

pink handfish.jpg

Handfish are fish. They have fins that look an awful lot like hands. Instead of swimming, they walk on these fins. If you ever suspected that anything remotely approaching the status of "missing link" would end up looking patently ridiculous—congratulations, you're right. At that handfish's expense.

Above is a pink handfish, one of nine newly identified species of the handfish family. Only four specimens of pink handfish have ever been found. And nobody has spotted a living one since 1999. (The inevitable crushing self-esteem issues must be keeping them out of public view.) The line between different species, in this case, seems to be mostly drawn along physical differences, according to National Geographic, which has organized the wide array of handfish diversity into a fascinating slideshow.


  1. That’s always one of the arguments against evolution that drives me crazy “But the transitional organism/missing link would look funny”.
    Plenty of lovely goofy-looking extant species. This is a cool one.

  2. Crushing self-esteem issues? I would be proud to be a fish with hands. They shouldn’t be so shy.

  3. I find it interesting that the author assumes we’ll agree that the fish is ugly. I think it’s kind of beautiful.

  4. To hell with transitional fossils (which do exist, by the way, and are well documented), how about transitional living fossils?! :D

    1. Just as a note, handfish aren’t actually links. They’re a sort of anglerfish, as good and proper a ray-finned fish as any, whereas we are related to lobe-fins like lungfish. It might give an idea of what an early-legged fish could look like, though.

      1. It was more of a joke, really. The fish would no doubt be a big, huge deal if it really was a living transitional link.

  5. but can you eat it? It’s only a matter of time before it makes it’s way onto your dinner plate, hands and all…

  6. Hey, my great-great-great-times 10 to the 50th power grandpa looked just like that dude.

  7. He’s a fine fellow, has lips for proper enunciation as well, a civilized looking chap.

  8. The fact that they have found the missing link in Hobart will come as no surprise to my father. He has long had his suspicions about his in-laws from the area.

  9. If this thing doesn’t spawn a dozen macros by the end of the week I’ll be very disappointed in the intarweebs.

  10. Let’s hope they don’t evolve thumbs. Then we’ll be in trouble

    All he’s missing is a monocle and a bowler hat.

  11. Big deal…I’ve had one for years. I taught it to do The Hand Jive. He likes Bo Diddley, too.

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