Tuesday, 11 June 2013

How Remora Fish Get Their Bizarre Suckers

Megan Gannon, News Editor
Date: 07 June 2013 Time: 03:42 PM ET

Scientists say they've confirmed how remora fish grow a weird sucking disc on their heads.

Remoras, which can be up to 3 feet (1 meter) long, have a slatted disc above their eyes, which sort of looks like the bottom of a sneaker. It acts like a sucker and allows them to attach to manta rays, sharks, and boat hulls in tropical waters. But the fish aren't parasites; rather, they harmlessly hitch rides and feed off of scraps of food from their hosts.
CREDIT: Dave Johnson 

It had long been suspected that the sucker was made out of the rearranged parts of a normal dorsal fin, but their development hadn't been studied. By watching remoras grow up from their earliest larva stages, a group of scientists says they finally confirmed that the sucker does indeed come from fin parts.

"We followed the earliest stages of the disc's development by matching the first vestiges of elements of the sucking disc with the first vestiges of elements of the dorsal fins of another fish, the white perch (Morone americana), which has the typical dorsal fin of most fishes," researcher Dave Johnson, zoologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum ofNatural History, explained in a statement.

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