Scientists find fish that literally lives in trees
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
October 17, 2007
Scientists have found a fish that literally lives in trees, according to research published in The American Naturalist and highlighted in New Scientist Magazine.
The mangrove killifish (Kryptolebias marmoratus), a small colorful fish found in mangrove swamps from central Florida to Brazil, can survive several months living inside pathways carved by insects in rotting logs. In surveys in Belize and Florida biologists found “hundreds of killifish lined up end to end, like peas in a pod,” writes Elie Dolgin in New Scientist Magazine. The fish survive by “[remodeling] their gills to retain water and nutrients, and [adding] new proteins to their skin to excrete nitrogen waste.” The species is also the only known hermaphrodite vertebrate that is capable of self-fertilization.
“They really don’t meet standard behavioural criteria for fish,” said Scott Taylor of the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program in
Florida, who reports the findings in an upcoming issue of The American Naturalist.
The adaptations help the killifish colonize new areas and explain why the species has such a large range says Dolgin.