In Australia, there is a fish that has lungs, can walk on dry land, and breathe air, for up to six days. It’s not a new species, but it’s on the move. This has scientists warning that if the reaches the mainland, it could be devastating to native species, who are simply not equipped to share an environment with a super-powered creature such as this.
The fish, known as the aggressive climbing perch, is just a little guy, ranging six to eight inches long at adulthood. Small stature aside, this critter is basically terrifying. It can “walk” on land, using its gill plates to crawl across the ground. The perch has lungs, as well as gills, so it can breathe air as well as any mammal—for up to six days, at least. This bizarre, evolutionary ‘missing link’ of fish can even suffocate a predator who attempts to swallow the perch, by swelling up inside the attacker’s throat. Oh, and did we mention it’s called a climbing perch because of its ability to climb trees? For real.
The climbing perch, originally discovered over 200 years ago, is native to Papua New Guinea and was already known to have spread to Indonesia. The land-loving fish has more recently been discovered in northern Australia, which has wildlife scientists more or less freaking out. An invasive species like this could spell “major disaster” for native animals, and it’s not just the other fish who are in danger, according to Nathan Waltham, an ecologist at Australia’s James Cook University. He believes this fish would also wreak havoc for turtle and bird populations. Waltham manages the TropWATER program, aimed at educating the public about this and other dangerous invasive species.
Let’s recap some of the amazing abilities of this freaky freshwater fish:
- walks on dry land
- has lungs and can breathe air for six days
- climbs trees!!!
- suffocates its predators from the inside
- can tolerate saltwater (despite being a freshwater dweller)
- hibernates in the mud for up to six months
- scares the begeezus out of rational humans
Images and video via Nathan Waltham/James Cook University