Academic journal article Science and Children

Fish Mimics Octopus That Mimics Fish

Academic journal article Science and Children

Fish Mimics Octopus That Mimics Fish

Article excerpt

Nature's game of intimidation and imitation comes full circle in the waters of Indonesia, where scientists have recorded for the first time an association between the black-marble jawfish (Stalix cf. histrio) and the mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus).

Having not been described by scientists until 1998, the talented mimic octopus is known to impersonate toxic flatfish, lionfish, and even sea snakes by creatively configuring its limbs, adopting characteristic undulating movements, and displaying bold brown-and-white color patterns. Thanks to these brazen habits, it can swim in the open with relatively little fear of predators.

The jawfish, on the other hand, is a small and timid fish. It spends most of its adult life close to a sand burrow, where it will quickly retreat upon sighting a predator.

During a diving trip in Indonesia, Godehard Kopp of the University of Gottingen, Germany, filmed an unexpected pairing between the two animals. Like a lackey clinging on to the big man on campus, the black-marble jawfish was seen closely following a mimic octopus as it moved across the sandy bottom. The jawfish had brown-and-white markings similar to the octopus and was difficult to spot among the many arms. …

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