Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Landlubber' fish leap for love when tide is right: Research sheds light on how animal life first evolved to colonize land

Date:
August 31, 2011
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
One of the world's strangest animals -- a unique fish that lives on land and can leap large distances despite having no legs -- has a rich and complex social life, a new study has found. The odd lifestyle of the Pacific leaping blenny (Alticus arnoldorum) has been detailed for the first time in research findings that throw new light on how animal life first evolved to colonize the land.

The odd lifestyle of the Pacific leaping blenny (Alticus arnoldorum) has been detailed for the first time in research findings that throw new light on how animal life first evolved to colonize the land.
Credit: Gina Cooke, UNSW

One of the world's strangest animals -- a unique fish that lives on land and can leap large distances despite having no legs -- has a rich and complex social life, a new study has found.

The odd lifestyle of the Pacific leaping blenny (Alticus arnoldorum) has been detailed for the first time in research findings that throw new light on how animal life first evolved to colonise the land.

The Pacific leaping blenny is a marine fish yet is terrestrial in all aspects of its daily adult life, eking out a precarious existence in the intertidal zone of rocky shores in Micronesia, according to the study published in the journal Ethology, led by Dr Terry Ord, of the UNSW Evolution and Ecology Research Centre.

"This remarkable little fish seems to have made a highly successful transition across the water-land interface, although it is still needs to stay moist to enable it to breathe through its gills and skin," says Dr Ord, who is an evolutionary ecologist with a special interest in animal behaviour.

"Our study showed that life on land for a marine fish is heavily dependent on tide and temperature fluctuations, so much so that almost all activity is restricted to a brief period at mid-tide, the timing of which changes daily. During our field study on Guam we never saw one voluntary return to water. Indeed, they spend much of their time actively avoiding submersion by incoming waves, even when we tried to capture them for study.

"I can tell you they are very hard to catch and are extremely agile on land. They move quickly over complex rocky surfaces using a unique tail-twisting behaviour combined with expanded pectoral and tail fins that let them cling to almost any firm surface. To reach higher ground in a hurry, they can also twist their bodies and flick their tails to leap many times their own body length."

Working with Tonia Hsieh, of Temple University in the US, Dr Ord found that adult blennies shelter in rock crevices at high and low tide, emerging at mid-tide to feed, breed and socialise in surprisingly complex ways -- given their brief window of opportunity.

The researchers discovered that males are territorial and use complex visual displays to warn off rivals and attract mates. Females were seen aggressively defending feeding territory at the start of their breeding season, while males displayed a red-coloured fin and nodded their heads vigorously to attract females to their closely defended rock holes. The team filmed females inspecting these holes before entering with a chosen mate.

Little is known of their breeding and development of the young, but it seems that females lay their eggs in a chosen rock hole then play no further role in parenting, leaving the male to guard the eggs.

"The Pacific leaping blenny offers a unique opportunity to discover in a living animal how a water-land transition has taken place," says Dr Ord.

"We know that our ancient ancestors evolved originally from lobe-finned fish but, today, all such fish are fully aquatic. Within the blenny family, however, are species that are either highly terrestrial, amphibious or entirely aquatic. Remarkably, representatives of all these types can be found on or around Guam, making it a unique evolutionary laboratory."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Terry J. Ord and S. Tonia Hsieh. A Highly Social, Land-Dwelling Fish Defends Territories in a Constantly Fluctuating Environment. Ethology, 26 AUG 2011 DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.2011.01949.x

Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "'Landlubber' fish leap for love when tide is right: Research sheds light on how animal life first evolved to colonize land." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110830102542.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2011, August 31). 'Landlubber' fish leap for love when tide is right: Research sheds light on how animal life first evolved to colonize land. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110830102542.htm
University of New South Wales. "'Landlubber' fish leap for love when tide is right: Research sheds light on how animal life first evolved to colonize land." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110830102542.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins