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This Fish’s Name Literally Translates to ‘Erect Penis’

No joke. It was named for its large member (which is attached to its face!).

There's a pattern in ocean animal names — a lot of them are given monikers based on what they look like. So, you can imagine our surprise when we came across the Phallostethidae family of priapium fish — a family that includes the Phallostethus genus.

If you haven't guessed by now, this fish is named after a certain piece of male anatomy, and there's a perfect reason why.


First off, let's break down this name, because it has a fascinating etymology. That's not usually a thing — but it is here. According to the database FishBase, the family name Phallostethidae comes from the Greek phallos (penis) and stete (to stand up). Basically, this fish's name is Erect Penis.

But that's not all. The genus name Phallostethus means "penis chest" in Greek, according to NatGeo. It's also referred to as the priapium fish — after Priapus, the ancient Greek fertility god, according to New Scientist.

That god had a, um, very large member. According to Greek mythology, he was essentially a garden scarecrow and used his gigantic reproductive organ to ward off thieves.

So, suffice to say this fish has very large shoes to fill in terms of its name.

But, it actually does live up to its moniker.

That's because this fish's own penis is pretty big and sits right under its chin.

Business and party in the front — and pretty much nothing in the back since its face-penis is also its butt. Its intestines literally U-turn in its body to get refuse out the way it came, per New Scientist.

This penis is called a priapium, and it contains its reproductive organs, urinary tract, anus and, according to LiveScience, "a bony rod and a sawlike hook."

You can see this hook below:

These are likely used to hold a female in place during mating, because, unlike with most fish who fertilize eggs once they've been laid, these guys do it internally.

Oh, and the female's reproductive organs are also on her face.

If the idea of a penis hook terrifies you too, take comfort (??) in knowing that this system at least works really well for these fish. NatGeo reports that often every egg gets fertilized this way.

To be honest, the sea is filled with some pretty phallic looking creatures. At least this one is owning it in its name. Like, come on with this "peanut" worm.

We all know what you should have really been named.

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