Have you ever wondered why some reef fish have extremely colorful patterns? Well, the researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at the James Cook University wondered the same thing.
The team studied the differences in the physical appearance of 42 types of butterfly fish. The goal was to understand why the fish looked different from each other. They used high definition photography to study the difference closely.
Christopher Hemingson, the lead author of the study, had this to say about the study, “Our results show that, over millions of years, butterflyfishes have evolved the greatest diversity of visual markings when they live in the same area as other, closely related species. Crucially, we also found that this only happens when both species have ranges that are of similar sizes. Colour is far more complicated than just looking different from other species. These colour patterns also depend specifically on what other species are also present. It is an interesting piece to the puzzle and may help explain why reef fishes are so colourful.”
The differing patterns seem to be related to the size of the range of the species. The authors on the paper were pleased with the new knowledge that the coloration of species evolves extremely quickly.