Wednesday 10 June 2015

Leaf Scorpionfish

Image: _Bunn_
Taenianotus triacanthus
It's what the agricultural world has been crying out for: pink, carnivorous leaves. We'll never need pesticides again!

Finally. Genetic modification done right.

Image: Nick Hobgood
The Leaf Scorpionfish is a single, 10 cm (4 in) species with a massive distribution. They can be found all over the Indo-Pacific region, from southern Japan down to northern Australia and from east Africa to Hawaii and all the way over to the Galapagos Islands.

Not bad for a fish that doesn't actually move around much!

Image: Harvey Cohen
Leaf Scorpionfish are one of those ambush predators who lounge around on the seabed using their camouflage to go unnoticed by predator and prey alike. In this case, they look just like a SCORPION! No, wait... they look just like a LEAF!

Their huge, sail-like dorsal fin is little help when it comes to swift or efficient swimming but if you're a fish who doesn't want to look like a fish, then looking like something that can't even swim is pretty clever. Leaf Scopionfish will even sway in the current to complete the effect.

Image: bnboly
If you look at them from the front or top you can see how incredibly compressed and flattened they are. That's why they're sometimes known as Paperfish.

Image: dachalan
Leaf Scorpionfish are so confident in their camouflage that they often use their big pectoral fins to perch atop corals or sponges in full view of anything that might happen by. No caves or rocky crevices for them: they're out, proud and, in terms of colour, decidedly loud!

They come in a vast array of colours, almost none of which have anything to do with a green leaf. They can also change colour over the course of a few days should they need to. And if things get really bad then the whole "scorpion" bit comes into play, what with the venomous spines in their fins.

If all goes well, a Leaf Scorpionfish can remain so incredibly still for so incredibly long that he'll make like a stone and get covered in algae and hydroids. That's not as problematic as it sounds since Leaf Scorpionfish shed their skin every few weeks.

That's one way of keeping up appearances!


TexWisGirl said...

pretty amazing. sit still and slough. :)

Joseph JG said...

The easy way to cleanliness!