A kiss from a colorful reef fish called a tubelip wrasse is no one's idea of romance, being so full of slime and suction, but it is perfectly suited for eating a hazardous diet using one of the animal kingdom's most unique feeding strategies.
Scientists on Monday described for the first time how the fish thrives in the Indian Ocean and central-western Pacific as one of the few creatures capable of dining on corals, one of the planet's most difficult menu items.
The researchers used a scanning electron microscope to determine the structure of its fleshy, pouty-looking lips and high-speed video to learn what it does while feeding. "To our knowledge, this type of lip has never been recorded before," James Cook University marine biologist David Bellwood said.
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