An Organ for Swordfish Speed

To be FAST is life.

That phrase comes to mind whenever I think of swordfish, cheetahs, condors, and “Fast and Furious” series.  Whether you have to run from a predator, or chase after a prey, speed plays an important role that determines the outcome of life and death.  Now, scientists have discovered a never before seen organ in swordfish that may facilitate their extreme speed.

The speed of a swordfish stems from their hydrodynamic sword-nose and over 1,000 pounds of muscle propelling the fish through water at speeds of over 60 miles per hour.  The sword shaped nose helps in cutting through the water and decreasing their cross-section for less friction.  Their power comes from their muscles powering their tail fin which is designed for speed.  Now, though, it appears there is another contribution to swordfish speed:  lubrication.  Scientists have discovered an organ located in the head of a swordfish that is responsible for making and secreting oil to lubricate the head and sword-nose.  As a result, it is believed that the oil creates a water-repelling layer that allows the fish to reduce drag and cut through the water more smoothly.

When we think of swordfish and their ability to move extremely quick, it is not outside the realm of possibilities to a common person that this adaptation is crucial for the fish.  However, what really gives them the evolutionary edge over other fish (because to me, all fish are fast…  faster than me…) is this oil gland or oil producing organ!  Imagine you are a fish living in the same watery world where the drag the water causes affects your speed.  Now imagine mostly all living organisms in the world, especially other fish, only combat and fight against this drag by becoming more streamline and increasing muscle mass for greater propulsion.  But imagine that you, a swordfish, are also streamline, have well developed muscles for speed, AND produces oil to repel water away to decrease drag!  When chasing down a prey, swordfish have that extra evolutionary edge developed for speed when compared to other fish.

For a fish that is so popular in the sport fishing world, it is surprising that scientists still discovered a new organ!  For something that has been hunted and killed since pretty much the dawn of sport fishing, it is amazing that this discovery of a new oil producing organ has gone unnoticed for so long!  This just goes to show that there are still so many more mysteries of wonders of nature that are yet to be discovered that may just be right under our nose.