Pufferfish are among one of the most easily discernible fish in the ocean, especially when inflated. But do you know how these little fish are able to expand more than three times their size in a matter of moments?
When a pufferfish expands, it’s not absorbing air like a balloon; instead, it’s pumping excessive amounts of water from its surroundings into its stomach. The fish’s stomach contains accordion-like folds that facilitate this expansion, and special muscles in its mouth and esophagus make pumping that water in and sealing it off possible. When the pufferfish is ready to deflate, special muscles in its underside push all the water back out.
Another exciting fact about pufferfish is that they lack any rib bones. Given just how much these fish expand, such bones would only get in the way. This makes pufferfish incredibly light and flexible when compared with other fish of similar sizes.
Scientists also think that pufferfish may have lost their ability to digest food with their stomachs due to evolving them to absorb water. That said, pufferfish may rely solely on their intestines to do all their digesting for them, as the stomach isn’t able to begin the digestion process.
Indeed, pufferfish are incredible animals, and scientists are always attempting to learn more about them.