are often used by ichthyologists to examine the skeletal characteristics
of fishes. I once x-rayed a specimen of Shortnose Batfish (Ogcocephalus
nasutus) out of curiosity as to what this unusual fish's skeletal
structure might look like. When the x-ray was developed it was a surprise
to see that the batfish had a collection of sea shells inside it. Even
more unusual, they had been swallowed whole.
Whether the shells are dissolved by stomach acid
or only their flesh digested away is unknown. If not dissolved they would
seemingly pose a problem in eventually passing them. Most other mollusk
eaters have powerful jaws and or pharyngeal crushers to break shells into
bits. The shell fragments are then mostly spat out and only the flesh is
swallowed. Swallowing them whole seems a hard way to go but it has been
subsequently found by others as well so it appears to be a habit of these
fishes and not just an isolated anomaly.
Life is full of surprises, starting with its very
existence and culminating in the ultimate mystery of consciousness.