The Improbable—but True—Evolutionary Tale of Flatfishes
by Ferris Jabr
Every summer there’s a snowfall in the sea. Instead of drifting down, it falls up, and rather than flakes of ice, it’s made of innumerable diaphanous eggs that rise from the bottom of the ocean to the surface. There, they hatch into baby flatfish, each no larger than a pinhead.
For the first few weeks of life, they look and act like typical fish fry, swimming upright through sun-dappled waters, darting after plankton. Soon enough, though, these young flatfish lose all semblance of normalcy during one of the most difficult puberties of any animal on the planet.
As a larval flatfish begins its passage into adulthood, it does not merely experience uneven growth spurts and mood swings. Rather, it changes from a cute, symmetrical little fish into a total anatomical disaster…
(read more: Nova Next - PBS)
photos: Jayvee Fernandez/Flickr, NOAA Fisheries West Coast/Flickr, Josh More/Flickr