logo CuriousOyster
Date: 24 Apr 2010 00:43:27
Title: And we think that we're clever!!

Mankind has achieved some truly amazing things as we have evolved over time and we consider ourselves to be the most intelligent, pre-eminent species on the planet. But when reading through her book on Pacific Reef Fish Trish came across this intro to the simple, boring Flatfish!!!! And I quote

"To acquire their flattened bodies, flatfishes pull off one of the animal kingdoms most astonishing feats of development biology. While adrift in their pelagic larval stage, flounders have typical bilateral fish shaped bodies, (stay with it, don't get bored, it's worth the time) properly aligned fins and pigmented eyes-one on each side of the head. Weeks later, sometime before settling on the sea floor, muscles, skin and blood vessels and bones inexorably shift into the flattened shape of thumbnail sized benthic juveniles. During this metamorphosis, one eye migrates across the head until next to the other, swim bladders disappear, the dorsal and anal fins line oval bodies and a long pectoral fin extends from the centre of their backs. The thin, pancake profile not only hides them from predators and prey but also allows them to bury quickly in the sand, leaving only a stalked, independently functioning, 180 degree rotating, periscope eyes exposed.

If you think that’s clever then read this.....But without question the tropical flounders best defensive strategy is rapid adaptive camouflage. Once settled, after moving to a new location, visual cues from the immediate surroundings are transmitted via nerves to thousands of irregular shaped cells in the skin, known as chromatophores, which change body patterns within seconds to match theor environment.

How clever is that?

Trish and I have swum above these flounders and seen this for ourselves as they swim across the seabed changing colour instantly to match the sea floor. We thought it was good, now we know it is amazing.

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