Blogs & Videos: Marine Animals

Video: A Sea Monster Named Jim

Olivier Rieppel and Jim Holstein tell the tale of the giant Lizard Eating Sovereign of the Sea (named Jim!). Touted as the "T. rex of the Sea," the Triassic sea monster was unearthed and brought back to The Field Museum where we hope to learn more about this new species. Research into this fascinating creature may teach us something about biodiversity crises and the recovery of ecosystems, both past and present.

Video: Leo on Bioluminescence

Beyond the reach of sunlight, thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean, some creatures create their own light known as "bioluminescence." Take a trip through the mind of Leo Smith, who asks questions about deep sea fish evolution. Patterns in diversity can offer clues to why fish have evolved so many ways of brightening up the deep sea. Some seem to use light to blend into their surroundings, others to lure prey out of the surroundings, or even to attract mates.

What the Fish? Episode 13: Exploring Fish Evolution on the Tree of Life

One of the primary reasons that we here at What the Fish? are fascinated with the evolutionary history of life on Earth is that it provides a context and scientific hypothesis from which we can further study the wonderful biodiversity of fishes. For example, if we have a working scientific hypothesis of how different species of clownfishes are related to one another, we can address questions surronding the number of times clownfishes have formed symbiotic relationships with anemones. 

What the Fish? Episode 7: We Found Nemo

For ichthyologists and fish enthusiasts everywhere, Disney-Pixar's Finding Nemo is one of those rare pieces of art and cinema that captures the essence of being a fish from a dazzling number of perspectives. It is clear from the very first frame that great care and attention to detail was taken with each marine species and their oceanic habitats. Sure there are the occasional liberties taken, such as the bizarre combination of different deep-sea fish species to form the mutant anglerfish that terrorizes Marlin and Dory.  But overall the attention to detail in this movie is spectacular from a fishy point of view.

What the Fish? Episode 4: Sneaker Males Are My Anemone

For most fishes, reproduction involves eggs and milting, which is like crop-dusting with sex cells (aka gametes). The vast majority of fishes are oviparous, which means they lay eggs that are fertilized and develop outside the mother's body. In these situations, males typically milt, which is the release and spreading of their gametes, onto the eggs that have been deposited in the environment. In ovoviviparous fishes, the eggs develop inside the body of the mother, and male gametes have to be passed into the females’ body through specialized structures, such as claspers (modified pelvic fins) in sharks or gonopodiums (modified anal fins) in guppies. Live birth (viviparity) has also evolved in a number of lineages of fishes, including sharks, guppies, and rockfishes. In viviparous fishes, the young develop within the mothers’ body.

What the Fish? Episode 3: You Light Up My Life

Bioluminescence, the production and emission of light from a living creature, is widespread among different groups of marine fishes (e.g., anglerfishes, flashlight fishes, dragonfishes). Most organisms produce light through a chemical reaction between luciferin (a small molecule) and oxygen. The enzyme luciferase speeds up this reaction, resulting in the production of light. But unlike the incandescent lightbulbs in your home, this light gives off almost no heat. Some fish species have the ability to produce the chemical compounds necessary for bioluminescence themselves (such as lanternfishes), while others rely on symbiotic bacteria to create and generate light (including the beloved anglerfish in our logo).

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