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Scientists assess isle fish's rock-climbing prowess

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 11:34 p.m. HST, Jan 6, 2013

Climbing waterfalls, eating algae— it’s all the same to the remarkable Nopili rock-climbing goby, scientists from Clemson University have learned.

In an article published in the open-access journal Plos One, lead author Richard Blob and colleagues report that the unusual fish is able to climb waterfalls as tall as 100 meters (roughly 330 feet) using the same jaw muscles and movements it uses to feed on algae.

It is unclear whether feeding movements were adapted for climbing or vice versa, the scientists note.

“We found it fascinating that this extreme behavior of these fish, climbing waterfalls with their mouth, might have been co-opted through evolution from a more basic behavior like feeding,” said Blob in a news release. “The first step in testing this was to measure whether the two behaviors really were as similar as they looked.”

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