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Sundarbans Inheritance

Mudskipper by Sumit Sen

For eons, mudskippers or the fish that ‘walk’ have intrigued humans. Their behaviour throws light on the sea-land transition of Devonian protoamphibians and how vertebrates may have undertaken evolutionary paths towards terrestriality. Mudskippers or mudhoppers are commonly-used terms to represent species that belong to the Teleostei, Gobiidae and Xudercinae, known for their amphibious habits. Foraging for food (algae, bloodworms, tubifex worms and crickets), courting, homing, and territorial behaviour take place on land. Their modified pectoral fins enable them to “walk” on land. Their eyes, protruding structures above the head, lack tear ducts. To keep them from drying, mudskippers literally roll them backwards into their sockets. Breathing takes place through the skin and lining in the mouth and throat. This limits their range to moist habitats; their geographic range covers the Indo-Pacific region. They dig deep burrows in soft sediments, allowing them to thermoregulate, evade predators during high tide, and lay eggs. An air pocket inside the burrow allows them to breathe even when oxygen levels are low.  Mudskippers even climb trees, but despite their given ability to adapt to the conditions, destruction of their mangrove habitat and pollution are a major threat to these little creatures.
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