toothfish lives three kilometres down under the very coldest southern oceans
, and its flesh is delicious and firm and mild.
As fish go they are huge, the very biggest are said to weigh in at nearly two hundred kilograms- but at any size they possess what is, by human standards, extreme ugliness. Their toothy jutting mouths, the dull silver-grey of their strangely flattened bodies and huge, empty eyes evolved for a world utterly alien to our own.
Although their plummeting numbers in past years have seen laws brought in to prevent their harvesting, these fish are surprisingly valuable, enough that a lot of boats will still brave not just the icebergs and huge southern seas but also international law to suck them out of the ocean illegally.
When the Patagonian tooth fish finally vanishes there will be no need for anyone to write a definitive history of its evolution or rise and fall (it was, after all, just a fish). A small toothfish statue in a park somewhere will be perfectly sufficient, and the words ‘it tasted good’ engraved at the bottom will provide all the explanation that is needed.