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Mudskippers: Fish That Can Walk on Land
This is a mudskipper:
Adorable little gremlin, isn’t it? These odd fish are members of the goby family, but they’re different from other gobies in a variety of ways. First, they’re amphibious, so they’re happy in and out of the water. Yes, that’s right. They can walk on land.
So, now, you might be saying, “What the hell? How?”. Well, they have these huge gill chambers that can store water like SCUBA tanks. When these “SCUBA gills” are full, they expand, and the mudskippers resemble chipmunks from the Black Lagoon. Charming, I know.
If that wasn’t enough, mudskippers can breathe through their skin like amphibians, although they need humidity to breathe and thrive. For this reason, they live in hot, tropical regions (especially in mangroves), where temperatures range between 75-86 F (24-30 C).
To stay high and dry (without drying out), every so often, they must go down to water’s edge and slurp water into their gill chambers. They must also roll around in the mud to keep their skin moist. And, since they don’t have eyelids to keep their eyes moist like we humans do, they must retract their eyes into water-filled cups on top of their head.
Oddly enough, they’re faster on land than they are in the water. In fact, they are much better adapted for terrestrial life than they are for aquatic. For example, they possess muscular bodies, which aren’t much help underwater but are valuable on land. With a single stroke, they can launch themselves up to 2 feet (or 60 cm) into the air. This is how they earned the name “mudskipper”. Pretty cool, eh?
To further aid them on land, they possess pelvic fins that have been modified into suction cups, which they use to climb and cling to rocks and other surfaces. This allows them to reach the best vantage point for spying predators and prey as well as the best positions to achieve higher and longer leaps.
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