Mudskippers are mindblowing.
Like a glimpse into the ancient evolutionary path that all land-dwelling life took when it emerged from the seas and started walking on terra firma, these little critters are amphibious, sitting somewhere between a fish and a frog on the evolutionary scale. Though it's clear they've found their niche and are sticking to it.
Mudskippers are members of the Gobiidae family, or Gobies, and can be found in many parts of the world, including equatorial Africa, Madagascar, Arabia, southeastern Asia, Japan and Australia. While there are some species of fish that can survive out of water for short periods of time, mudskippers are fully amphibious, and can be spied happily feeding or fiercely defending territory outside of water.
Just how are they able to pull off such a feat of living in between worlds? The trick is in their skin. Unlike other fish that use gills to breathe, mudskippers use their skin. They've evolved in hot and humid habitats. The heat allows them to be active, while the humidity allows them to stay moist and to breathe. As long as their mouths and skin stay moist, they are able to absorb oxygen from the air.
Not only do they walk and feed on land, but they also create deep burrows that function as an escape from predators as well as a den for raising young.
And if you think just seeing a fish walk on land isn't mind-blowing enough, then just watch the spectacle that is mating season. The males become more vibrantly colored and do incredible acrobatics, including pushups, launching themselves into mid-air flips as high as two feet off the ground, and even standing on their tails.
They also raise their dorsal fins, looking like tiny angry dinosaurs, to ward off competing males. If the warning doesn't work, then they fight.
The better the show of flipping, pushups and other acts of strength and agility, the more attractive the males are to females. The female then performs her own version of a mating ritual, and retreats into the male's burrow to lay her eggs. The male fertilizes them and takes over full responsibility for caring for them.
Mudskippers only grow to be between 3 inches to 9 inches long depending on species, but don't let their small stature fool you -- these fish are ferocious! Just check them out fighting in this video from National Geographic:
Here is another interesting video about this mind-blowing species from National Geographic:
Read more about this fascinating fish at Aquarium of the Pacific's website.