Watch a Fish Make a Tongue Out of Water

by Owen James Burke

mudskip

The mudskipper (Periophthalmus barbarus). Kim Taylor & Jane Burton/Getty Images.

The mudskipper (Periophthalmus barbarus) is a fish known for forging the mud in order to reach its prey, but it’s not terra firma that’s the critter’s biggest obstacle. Many fish can take a brief hiatus from the H2O, but mudskippers may be among the few who can manage to dine on land, according to new research from the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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Screenshot from “A Fish Makes a Tongue Out of Water.”

When leaving the water, the mudskipper carries a reserve of water in its mouth, which it then spits at its prey while lunging in for the attack. The water creates a seal around the prey (in the film below it’s a piece of shrimp), and the fish is able to use the water to pull the prey back toward its esophagus, where a tongue-like bone called the hyoid (most fish have them) works to serve the digestive tract. Researchers suggest that the adaptation of this tiny fish may be responsible for the evolutionary leap that allowed for our ancestors to begin feeding on dry ground.

Read more at Science. –OJB

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