Fish with legs? What did you just read? Is that even possible? Surprisingly, yes! There are fish that have feet too.
These are actually fins that have evolved into leg-like limbs. And they usually move on the bottom of the sea by using their leg-like fins and tails.
The following are fish with legs:
Fish with Legs
Scientific Name: Antennariidae
These little stocky fish with legs are most likely to be spotted in the water. It is a part of the anglerfish family, and they are primarily found in the subtropical and tropical seas.
Their body is covered with peculiar appendages that help them blend into the environment while hunting. The legs of the frogfish are actually pectoral fins.
These malleable fins evolved to be longer than most fish fins. Hence they look like legs.
You can typically spot these fish near islands on the marine reefs. Frogfish simply love to lounge on the reefs at most times.
While hunting, the frogfish patiently lies in waits for its prey. When the prey appears, the frogfish lunges at it with its strong, forceful legs/fins and bites down on them.
There are still new varieties of the frogfish being discovered to this day. Very recently, a new species of frogfish named the blackfish was found.
Some of them are quite interesting species, such as:
- Antennarius Pictus: This cute subspecies of frogfish has a snub nose and a short stocky body. It comes in very bright colors.
- Antennarius Maculatus: Many frogfish of this kind are very beautiful with their varying colors. They are also called warty frogfish.
- Antennarius Striatus: They have long hair-like growth on their bodies. These help them in blending in with their environment. Due to their growths, they are known as hairy frogfish too!
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Scientific Name: Brachionichthyidae
Like the frogfish, the handfish is also a part of the anglerfish family. These fish are mainly found along the coasts of Tasmania and Australia.
And as the name suggests, these tiny fish have fins that look like hands. Pretty fascinating, isn’t it?
Handfish are bad swimmers and prefer walking. You can often see them walking along the seafloor. They walk by propelling themselves across the sea bottoms, but they do not actually walk overland.
Handfish are a bit of a mystery as not much has been known or studied about them! But, we do know that many sub-species of handfish exist.
Some of them include:
- Thymichthys Verrucosus: Because of the way they look, these ones are known as warty handfish.
- Brachionichthys Hirsutus: These beauties are covered with spots and are hence known as spotted handfish too!
- Thymichthys Politus: These are bright colored and are also called red handfish.
Scientific Name: Ogcocephalus Darwini
Despite their names, batfishes have distinct bodies that are not evolved for swimming. However, they have altered pectoral fins.
And just like the frogfish and handfish, they belong to the anglerfish family.
They use their fins to walk over the seabed. Batfish look odder than most other fishes.
Their bodies are slim, their heads are flat, and they have an even odder style of walking. Also, their pectoral fins are defined as the most leg-like.
Batfish are divided into almost 60 different species. There are a few species that can still be found in shallower waters.
Some species of batfish are:
- Ogcocephalus Radiatus: These are batfish that resemble toads. They always seem like they are walking due to their strong pectoral fins.
- Ogcocephalus Corniger: These have the oddest developed fins on a fish. Their pectoral fins look a lot like proper legs with tiny feet coming off the main part!
- Ogcocephalus Darwini: These cute batfish prefer to live near Galapagos reefs. They have leg-like pectoral fins and protruding eyes that make them look cute.
- The Red-lipped Batfish: These species spend most of their time on the bottom of the seafloor, and as their name suggests, they look like they are wearing lipstick.
Related: Two-legged Animals
Scientific Name: Oxudercinae
A land-walker in the truest sense, the mudskipper can walk on land for long periods. It is also known as the walking fish. There are over 30 different types of mudfish that can survive on land.
The mudskipper has evolved tails and pectoral fins, unlike other species. Its tail enables it to move across land very easily using its fins.
They can even leap into branches and trees at great speeds. Although they are found in muddy areas near the seas, they can even jump! (source)
This fish with legs has always fascinated researchers due to its interesting behavior and uniquely evolved body. They also manage to cover long distances in a jiffy.
Just like pure land animals, mudskippers protect their territories on land and even court and mate other mudskippers. They use their blunt head to defend their territories!
Mudskippers create elaborate, long burrows when on land into which they vanish.
There are many sub-species of mudskippers such as:
- Boleophthalmus Caeruleomaculatus: These beauties have bright blue spots all over them. Also known as blue-spotted mudskipper, they are often seen on land.
- Periophthalmodon Schlosseri: These mudskippers walk for great lengths on land. As they can grow up to 11 inches, they are called giant mudskippers too!
- Boleophthalmus Boddarti: Another beautiful mudskipper, their dorsal fins have attractive spots on them.
Scientific Name: Dipnoi
Another fascinating addition to the fish species with legs! Lungfish can remain on both land and water, thanks to their unique lungs.
Their primitive lungs have evolved to help them breathe in air, while they use gills for underwater breathing. However, they cannot walk on land.
Lungfish are as old as the Triassic age. Fossil records help us know more of their history. They even have special fins using which they walk across sea floors.
These mysterious fish are some of the most interesting aquatic creatures for studies.
Interestingly, lungfish are capable of going into hibernation mode for up to four years! Also, they are real tough survivors who can make it through extremely poor environments.
While they aren’t lounging on the land surface, they are busy scouring the lake bottoms!
Check out some interesting sub-species of lungfish:
- Lepidosiren Paradoxa: These eel-like fish are mostly found in the swamps of South America. Their poor fin shape makes it difficult to walk on lake floors.
- Neoceratodus Forsteri: This large Australian lungfish looks eerie while walking across sea floors. They can weigh up to 95 pounds.
- Protopterus Aethiopicus: These stunning lungfish have beautiful patterns on them, making them the most pretty lungfish out there!
Scientific Name: Ambystoma Mexicanum
Perhaps the most well-known and cutest creature with legs around, the Axolotl is next on our list. Also known as the Mexican walking fish, this species is often mistaken for fish.
Turns out, it is actually a neotenic salamander! A neotenic salamander is a type of amphibian with gills.
However, although they are not actually fish, these salamanders are our honorary members of the list.
Even though it has evolved to have feet, it still lives and breathes underwater. Unlike other amphibians, it has metamorphosis to have feet while still keeping its gills. It remains a creature of the seas throughout its life!
They are very rarely found in the wild seas. Most often, you can find them in the homes of people as pets. This fascinating creature is very much in demand as a pet due to its cute looks.
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Less known fish with legs species
- Antennarius Maculatus: These fish have a modified dorsal fin. This fin acts like a fishing rod, while also helping them walk. They can grow up to 15 cms and have tiny dermal spinules covering their skin.
- Tiktaalik Roseae: These are the first species of fish to begin walking and are extinct now. They had features similar to tetrapods and lived about 375 million years ago.
- Atractosteus Spatula: They are the biggest fishes that belong to the gar family. It is a rare kind of ray-finned euryhaline.
- Hemiscyllium Ocellatum: Here is a species of carpet shark. It is called the long-tailed carpet shark. They walk by thrusting their pectoral fins and wiggling. They also have large black spots on their pectoral fins.
- Panderichthys Rhombolepis: These have large heads that are flattened and narrow like tetrapods. Like most lobe-fin fishes, they also have an intracranial joint. These fish can grow from 90 cm to 130 cms.
- Latimeria Chalumnae: These are rare types of vertebrates that look like lungfish and tetrapods. They are also called gombessa.
- Chelidonichthys Cuculus: This unique-looking fish has three pectoral fins or rays. These rays have sensory organs and look like fingers. They live at the bottom and are red-colored.
Why Some Fish Evolved to Have Legs?
One of the main reasons that come to mind is survival. There are many challenges that come with living in the wild. These include predators, natural disasters, or even a lack of prey or food.
Sometimes, this dire need to survive causes animals to evolve or mutate. Some fishes have adapted to such an extent that they are almost amphibians.
Here are some reasons in detail for their evolution:
- Threat from predators: It’s a real boon when fishes are able to switch from land to water and vice-versa. Fishes with legs use this to escape when threatened by predators. When a predator from the sea attacks them, they come to the shore. At the same time, they swim right back to the sea on encountering a land predator.
- Camouflage: Fishes with legs tend to latch or hold on to their environment, such as plants, etc., to blend right into them. This is another protection mechanism they use against predators.
- Gathering food: During scarcity of food, fishes with legs can typically move on to land in search of food. Some may even find land prey tastier! Moreover, in the seas, they can cling to the seafloor to gather more food despite the strong currents. They can find more algae, shrimp, and other tiny microorganisms to feed off the lake or sea bottoms.
It is really fascinating to see fish with lags that walk on land or even the seafloors. But adapting to survive has been done by many other species too. And fishes are no different!
Moving between land and the seas helps these fish survive better. They can escape from dangerous predators or starvation from either side. Out of these, some even behave like land animals, like mating and being territorial while on land.
In contrast, others have developed special lungs to breathe on land as well as sea. What is cooler is to see this evolution happening since prehistoric times!
Thank you for reading. Hopefully, this article was informative and has helped you learn something new.
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