Little Jawfish Pretends to be Part of Mimic Octopus

Posted on January 4, 2012

Scientists recorded for the first time an association between the black-marble jawfish (Stalix cf. histrio) and the mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) in the waters of Indonesia. The mimic octopus is known to impersonate toxic flatfish, lionfish, and even sea snakes. Now there is also a little fish that mimics it. This make an unusual case of a fish mimicking an octopus that mimics fish.

The jawfish is a small and timid fish, which spends most of its adult life close to a sand burrow, where it will quickly retreat upon sighting a predator. By swimming with the larger octopus it is able to venture farther away from its burrow to look for food.

Dr. Luiz Rocha, assistant curator of ichthyology at the California Academy of Sciences, says, "This is a unique case in the reefs not only because the model for the jawfish is a mimic itself, but also because this is the first case of a jawfish involved in mimicry. Unfortunately, reefs in the Coral Triangle area of southeast Asia are rapidly declining mostly due to harmful human activities, and we may lose species involved in unique interactions like this even before we get to know them."

The black and yellow jawfish is difficult to see as its pretends to be part of the black and yellow mimic octopus. Take a look:

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