Wednesday, 18 November 2015

South American Leaffish

Image: Chris Geatch
It's a carnivorous leaf! The vegetables have finally had enough and are seeking revenge against us all! Especially vegetarians. Those juice-thirsty vegetarians.

Carrots sharpen themselves and lunge like spears. Watermelons like squishy cannonballs smash into people and ruin their shirts. Bananas disrobe and leave their peels strewn dangerously on the floor.

Image: styko
But no-one suspects the dry, brown leaves that aren't even attached to a plant or tree. Especially when it's in a river.

And that's the whole point! Those dastardly leaves.


Video: Ivan Mikolji

South American Leaffish are a mere three species of fish who make up the family Polycentridae. They range in size from the recently discovered Polycentrus jundia at 2.8 cm (an inch) long to the Amazon Leaffish (Monocirrhus polyacanthus) at 8 cm (5 in) long. The only other species is the Guyana Leaffish (P. schomburgkii) who reaches 5 cm (2 in) in length.

As you've probably guessed by now, South American Leaffish come from the rivers of South America. That's where they spend vast amounts of time indulging in the dark art of lurking. They're fantastic lurkers who like to hide among aquatic plants even though they could just as easily hide in plain sight with their fantastic "dead leaf" camouflage.


They like to hang around head down and they even have a kind of fashionable beard that looks just like a stalk!

There's only one thing that can raise a South American Leaffish from her predatory slumber, and that's food. Usually in the form of small fish. That's when a dead leaf in the Amazon suddenly grows a mouth that shoots out and swallows prey in almost no time at all.

Image: Joachim S. Müller
The small prey doesn't even have to be all that small because South American Leaffish, for all their compressed, leafy shape and pointy, leafy snout, still have surprisingly large jaws. What was once a dainty mouth swiftly stretches out and opens up into a long, consuming tube

It's a good thing these Leaffish are as small as they are, there are some really big leaves out there that could eat a guy whole if they had a mouth for it.

2 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

cool! lurker with jaws!

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

That sums them up quite well!

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