Mimicking a mimic

10 January 2012
Posted by Chris Smith.

Hitting the science news headlines is one of the oceans' most extraordinary animalsMimic octopus and black marble jawfish - the mimic octopus, Thaumoctopus mimicus. You might remember this was one of our 12 Critters of Christmas a while ago. They put on an eye-catching performance as they display elaborate behaviours and colouration to mimic a large range of poisonous species including sea snakes and lionfish - by co-opting the fearsome reputation of these animals, they startle predators and can swim about in the open even though they themselves are soft, vulnerable, and harmless.

Now scuba divers have spotted another species that mimics the mimic. The black-marble jawfish isn't new to science but for the first time it's been spotted hanging out with a mimic octopus. The jawfish has similar brown and white patterns as the octopus and as you can see in the video (link below) filmed by Godehard Kopp from the University of Gottingen, Germany, the little fish is very difficult to spot among the octopus's tentacles. And the octopus doesn't seem to notice or care.

This is the first known case of mimicry in jawfish and is published this month in the journal Coral Reefs.

Mimic OctopusFind out more:

You tube video of
jawfish and mimic octopus

Rocha LA, Ross R, Kopp G. 2011. Opportunistic mimicry by a jawfish.
Coral Reefs.

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