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The Incredible Rock Climbing Catfish

Written By: by Scott Schaeffer, AMNH  |  Posted: Saturday, May 14th, 2011

            It's not very pretty, nor is it graceful, but Venezuela's rock-climbing catfish has a unique ability among fish. Perhaps there are days when a salmon, trying to make it up a waterfall, wishes that it could simply climb the rocks.

            The rock-climbing catfish's climbing equipment begins with a powerful sucker mouth. Once it attaches itself to a rock, it can stay stuck despite any torrent. The rock-climbing catfish also has a bony plate on its belly that helps it hold its place while it repositions its sucker a little further up the rocks. The plate has fins with tiny, backward-pointing teeth. These teeth dig into the rock and prevent slipping. The catfish's third special feature is a set of powerful muscles to control the plate.

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