Fish Smell Like the Coral They Eat—Disguise Is New to Science
Filefish use chemical camouflage to hide from predators, study reveals for first time.
Now this is one fish that would beat you in a game of hide-and-seek. New research shows coral-dwelling filefish camouflage themselves by not only looking, but also smelling like their prey.
Orange-spotted filefish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris), which feed exclusively on Acropora corals in Australia, ingest chemicals in the corals that cause them to take on the scent of their food. This hides the filefish from their own predators, such as cod. (See stunning pictures of coral reefs.)
This is the first time scientists have discovered a vertebrate chemically camouflaging itself via its diet, said study leader Rohan Brooker, currently a postdoctoral student at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Visual camouflage is well known in the animal kingdom,