The yellow black-faced triplefin deflects sunlight to break predator camouflage

phys.org | 2/21/2018 | Staff
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Small fish use light for active sensing to detect potential predators. The yellow black-faced triplefin (Tripterygion delaisi) can reflect downwelling sunlight sideways with its iris, illuminating its immediate surroundings. A team headed by Professor Nico Michiels from the Institute of Evolution and Ecology at the University of Tübingen has now shown that the fish actively reflects light to locate predators such as the Black Scorpionfish (Scorpaena porcus). When the deflected sunlight hits the eyes of a scorpionfish, it is reflected back ‒ and warns the triplefin to keep a safe distance. The results of Michiels' team have been published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Some animal species actively send out signals and detect their reflections to locate prey or nearby objects. For example, bats emit ultrasound to find their way by echolocation. Using the emission of light to trigger visible reflections was previously only known from nocturnal flashlight fish. These use bioluminescence to improve their vision in the dark.

Research - Use - Sunlight - Fish - Triplefins

But until now, there has been no research into the use of sunlight by diurnal fish such as triplefins. Just four centimeters long, the yellow black-faced triplefin lives at a depth of about ten meters in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. It can tilt and rotate its eyes to deflect the incident sunlight from its...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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