Thursday, July 26, 2007

Half a beak is better than none?

The halfbeak is so named because its lower jaw is much longer, while its upper jaw is short and triangular. "Hemi" means half; while "rhamphos" means beak or bill in Greek. The jaws have several rows of small teeth and the tip of the long, spike-like lower jaw is often brightly coloured. The eyes are relatively large and scales are large too.

Halfbeaks are well adapted to living at the water surface. Usually darker on the top while the sides and underside are silvery. This camouflages it from above-water predators looking down on it, as well as underwater predators looking up at it. Its unfish-like body shape also means it is often dismissed as floating sticks. Some small ones are brown and twig-like.

Halfbeaks eat things that float on the surface such as algae, tiny animals like zooplankton and other fishes. Some halfbeak species eat land insects that might fall into the water, while others eat seagrasses and algae.

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