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2020 nightmare…triggerfish with human mouth, teeth

Social media erupted with fascination, weird arousal and disgust this week after a Twitter user shared close-up photos of a fish reportedly caught in Malaysia, which appears to have the mouth of a human.

The fish basically looks like a wannabe Instagram model, with big, puffy lips and a set of human-like chompers. It appears to be a species of triggerfish native to the waters around Malaysia.

“Her lips are hotter than mine,” user @raff_nasir wrote in an early July  tweet, which included two photos of the freshly caught fish.

It’s unclear who took the original photos, but the Rakyat Post reports that they’ve been circulating on messaging apps in Malaysia since early July.

It’s possible the image has been edited to make the teeth appear more human, marine ecologist David Booth told CNet.

“Their teeth are large but not human-like, so yes the pictures do look fake,” he said.

Global News ran the photo through two separate Google reverse image searches. The searches did not reveal any possible Photoshop source for the mouth.

The markings on the fish resemble those of a blackbelly triggerfish.

User @raff_nasir hasn’t provided further clarity on the photos, so as of this writing, it’s unclear if they are real or fake.

But it’s not the first time someone has captured photos of a fish with a winning smile. There are more than three dozen species of triggerfish in the world, and many of them have puffy lips and pronounced teeth.

Some variants, like the Picasso triggerfish, appear to have human-like front teeth and big lips.

The mouth of a Picasso triggerfish (Rhinecanthus assasi) is shown in the Red Sea of Egypt. 

Others, such as the clown triggerfish, are a few teeth short of a Joker smile.

Most triggerfish live in tropical or subtropical waters where they use their teeth to crunch into crabs, urchins and worms, according to National Geographic. The largest species of the oval-shaped fish grow to be about a metre long.