All clownfish are born male. When they become adults, the largest, most dominant fish becomes a female, and the second largest becomes the breeding male. If the breeding female disappears, the breeding male (now the largest of the group) will become a female, and so on. In other species of tropical fish, when the ratio between males and females becomes imbalanced, dominant females may become males.
Already famed as Earth’s first tool-using marine mammals, the bottlenose dolphins of Australia’s Shark Bay have proved handy yet again, by using conch shells to trap tasty fish, then shaking them into their mouths like sardines from a tin.
“The extent to which the conch shell is manipulated and the rarity of the behavior suggest that ‘conching’ takes some skill and practice and might thus be another rare individual foraging tactic in Shark Bay,” wrote biologists led by the University of Zurich’s Michael Krutzen in Marine Mammal Science.
“Photographs were taken, with two of these clearly revealing the posterior portion of a fish protruding from the conch aperture and held in the dolphin’s jaws,” they wrote in Marine Mammal Science. “The dolphin lifted the conch out of the water and manipulated it in such a manner as to drain the water and the fish from the shell.” It appeared to be an emperor fish.
t’s easy being green for a sea slug that has stolen enough genes to become the first animal shown to make chlorophyll like a plant.
Shaped like a leaf itself, the slug Elysia chlorotica already has a reputation for kidnapping the photosynthesizing organelles and some genes from algae. Now it turns out that the slug has acquired enough stolen goods to make an entire plant chemical-making pathway work inside an animal body, says Sidney K. Pierce of the University of South Florida in Tampa.
The slugs can manufacture the most common form of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants that captures energy from sunlight, Pierce reported January 7 at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Pierce used a radioactive tracer to show that the slugs were making the pigment, called chlorophyll a, themselves and not simply relying on chlorophyll reserves stolen from the algae the slugs dine on…