Animals have adapted and evolved to thrive in their environments, however extreme they may be, including the waterfall-climbing goby fish.
A certain species of goby fish has adapted to climbing by using two sucker muscles, including one used to eat in order to climb up waterfalls over 300 feet.
The study published today in PLOS ONE by Richard Blob of Clemson University and colleagues investigate how these sucker muscles used to climb and eat evolved.
The muscle may have evolved to facilitate eating algae first then use later for climbing or vice versa.
“We found it fascinating that this extreme behaviour of these fish, climbing waterfalls with their mouth, might have been coopted through evolution from a more basic behaviour like feeding. The first step in testing this was to measure whether the two behaviours really were as similar as they looked” says lead author, Blob, in a press release about the paper.
The researchers captured Hawaiian gobiids and filmed them while feeding on algae, and climbing. They observed the jaw muscle in order to see if the two movements were similar. How closely these movements are related may predict how they evolved.
The movements closely matched each other over all, but the data cannot determine whether these oral movements were first evolved for feeding or for climbing.
Although they can’t determine what adapted first, it is clear that they have learned to use the same muscle to accomplish two different tasks.
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