BOB HIRSHON (host):
Mimicking a mimic. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
To avoid predators, the mimic octopus of Indonesia contorts its body and adjusts its swimming patterns to resemble a sea snake or one of several toxic fish. Now, ichtyologist Luiz Rocha of the California Academy of Sciences and his colleagues have discovered that a small, timid fish called the jawfish actually mimics the mimic octopus.
LUIZ ROCHA (California Academy of Sciences):
The jawfish is not mimicking anything that is mimicked by the octopus. So the jawfish is not mimicking the lionfish, for example. Or a sea snake. It’s mimicking the actual mimic.
He says the jawfish rarely ventures out of its burrow alone. But it will swim in the open with a mimic octopus, blending into its tentacles while the octopus itself puts up its own false front. Rocha says it’s the first known fish in the sea to mimic a skilled imposter, rather than a genuinely dangerous species. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.