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True and false threatening visual cues in some Mediterranean fish

  • Roberto Bedini (a1), Maria Grazia Canali (a2) and Andrea Bedini (a2)

Mediterranean fish of the Trachinidae and Uranoscopidae families are characterized by a poison apparatus on the 1st dorsal fin. These fish hide by burying themselves in the sand using cryptic mimicry. Nevertheless, if they are discovered before they have completely buried themselves, or perceive a potential source of danger when already covered, they will raise their 1st dorsal fin which has a bright black spot on the inter-radial membrane. We have shown that this black vexillum acts as a threatening visual cue and that the movements accompanying black mark display can be defined as aggressive mimicry.  We therefore thought it interesting to investigate the black mark display in some species of Soleidae, a behaviour never before reported in the literature. In these fish, the black marks are situated on the right pectoral fin which, as a result of the distortion and re-arrangement of some anatomical parts during development, shifts to a dorsal position in adults. Soles also bury themselves in the sand, and they too display their marked fins on the approach of a possible predator, just like fish belonging to the above dangerous families.

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Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
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