i had no idea they were so frickin huge
I love them so much because they’re about as sharp as a baseball and their anatomy is ridiculous to the point of them literally being classified as plankton for years because they just sort of get blown around by the ocean and look confused, but because they lay more eggs than ANY OTHER VERTEBRATE IN EXISTENCE, evolution can’t stop them
Why is no big predator coming and gnawing on them?
Their biggest defense is that they’re massive and have super tough skin, but they do get hunted by sharks or sea lions sometimes and they just sort of float there like ‘oh bother’ as it happens
Even funnier, because they eat nothing but jellyfish they’re really low in nutritional value anyway, so they basically survive by being not worth eating because they’re like a big floating rice cracker wrapped in leather.
Perfect example of “survival of the fittest” NOT meaning being some hyper aggressive, muscular manly asshole. This creature fell upon the complete opposite combination of traits and just rolled with it and evolution was like “well, it’s working, somehow".
reminder that this is what they look like when they hatch and they are smaller than a housefly
…..But they reach up to 800 pounds in barely over ONE YEAR.
One year omfg are you fucking serious I didn’t know that
it looks like someone dropped a lentil how does it gain that much weight eating jellyfish
As an ichthyologist (someone who studies fish, I’m about to get my masters degree and move on to my PhD), I feel I need to respond to these sort of posts about Molids. I don’t want to ruin anyones fun, but it’s become a pretty common joke to talk about how ridiculous Mola mola are and how “they’re a freak of evolution that somehow works cause they lay billions of eggs” when in reality, they are actually very complex fish that are just as valid as any other. I’ll link sources below.
They belong to the order Tetraodontiformes, which contains other fishes commonly described as weird like pufferfish, triggerfish, and boxfish. When you look at the Mola mola in a phylogenetic context, its actually not that strange as its very similar to its relatives. The name “Tetraodontiformes” means four-teeth, and so like the puffers and triggers, molas have 4 fused crushing teeth, hence the small funny mouth. This group is also known for their peculiar swimming methods. Almost all the members of this order use their dorsal and anal fins for propulsion (balisthiforme locomotion) rather than their caudal fin. In the Molas case, its caudal fin has been reduced to a rudder essentially, properly called a clavus. Look up videos of this guys relatives swimming and it wont be so strange it lacks a proper caudal fin, especially look at triggerfish.
To address the jokes about them just floating around and eating only jellyfish, this may actually only be half true. Very little is known about their feeding habits, but they appear to be more likely omnivores. They feed on any floating gelatinous zooplankton, but have have also been found with squid, fish, crab, and eelgrass in their stomachs and have been found to take squid baited hooks, though we don’t know if this is because of the squid or light lures. Also remember another large animal does the same thing - leatherback sea turtles are gelantinous zooplanktivores too, and equally massive.
As for their swimming, these fish are actually powerful swimmers with many records of them breaching and jumping high into the air. See the video to see one taking off. They are also travelers, making regular forays into the ocean deep and out-swimming currents as they migrate. We only know them from when they swim up from the deep to get rid of parasites and warm themselves, which is when I’d be pretty lazy too. There is a great deal we don’t know about these fishes, but they are far from simple giant heads, they represent an interesting evolutionary turn in nature with a unique morphology that natural selection helped create.
Lastly, I’d like to address the concept that these are large, unintelligent creatures. This is partially based on my opinion and personal experience diving, but Tetraodontiforme fishes are some of the most curious and intelligent fishes I know of. Aquarists around the world have recognized this as well, especially in triggerfishes. The same is likely true for Molas, these are some of the most evolutionarily derived fishes in the world that exhibit complex behaviors like recognizing that they can bask and seagulls will pick off their parasites.
TLDR: These are complex fishes that we still barely understand, but they are actually powerful swimmers who can migrate, regularly make deep sea dives, exhibit complex behavior and may actually be omnivores. Please stop portraying them as freaks of nature because these images can negatively affect conservation efforts for animals. Being seen as useless is just as dangerous for conservation as is being thought of as dangerous. These guys are regular bycatch by fishing boats and may already be in danger.
Sources: If you can’t open the pdfs, message me and I’ll send you a copy.http://ift.tt/2t9qOowhttp://ift.tt/2tIMW62http://ift.tt/2t9lgdzhttp://ift.tt/2tIRgCj
TY FOR THE INFO AAAA I’m not at all a fish expert and I appreciate you taking the time, I had no idea they could actually breach the surface that’s amazing holy shit. Imagine not knowing what a sunfish is and seeing that??
It’s amazing how little we know about species like this that are so big or commonplace for some people? It’s similar for amphibians, which are what I know more about rofl. We have salamanders in Georgia that are totally undocumented, some of them we’ve had documented for years and we just have no idea how long they live or what they eat etc because it hasn’t been studied.
That being said I hope it’s clear that me saying they’re ridiculous fish is in the same way I make fun of frogs; They’re adapted very well for their environment and things like ‘freakish’ or ‘useless’ are entirely baseless judgements because it’s based entirely on our perception of what’s average/useful and not the reality. Their adaptations are very beneficial because they’ve carved out a niche in their environments that no other fish have and that’s pretty amazing. They’re extremely cool fish!
Frogs are also amazingly well adapted, sensitive, and very important, and when I’m pointing and laughing at mola molas for looking perpetually surprised or desert rain frogs for looking like ping pong balls that grew legs I hope it’s obvious that it’s because I find them endearing and love them and not because my making fun of them is serious.
how could anyone not love these mysterious sideways children
(If you have time, is it known how they grow so quickly?? I’ve been thinking about it all day, they must know something to eat that gives them the nutrients needed to grow so quickly but I can’t imagine what. Also have you gotten to see them in the wild? I always wondered if they acknowledged humans like whales or dolphins do, or if they sort of ignore us)
Re blogging for debunking mola slander
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