Scientist Discovers Live Birthing and Suckling Fish

The European eelpout, also known as the viviparous eelpout (Zoarces viviparus), also known as the, viviparous blenny actually suckles its young like a mammal.  It is also called the Mother of eels as it gives live birth, unlike its multitude of its fish cousins. Viviparous, in regard to animals, means development of the embryo inside the body of the mother, eventually leading to live birth (as opposed to laying eggs).

It has been a mystery how the European eelpout feed its young as the egg yolk normally would not sustain embryos that develop over six months.  A team of researchers from Denmark, led by Professor Peter Skov of the University of Copenhagen, has found out how the eelpout does this amazing unusual feat.

This year, it was discovered by Professor Skov that the eelpout suckles its young embryos while still within their mother’s body, making it the only fish species to suckle its offspring.  The egg is also produced and matured in the ovary, by special follicles as with mammals.  Fertilization is here whereas the eelpout does not actually have a uterus.

Living to be about 10 years old at full maturity, many Mediterranean countries use this special fish in delicatessen soups.  Where most fish bones are commonly white, the bones of the eelpout are strangely green because of a green pigment in their circulatory system.

Mammals (formally called Mammalia) are a class of vertebrate animals whose name is derived from their distinctive feature, mammary glands, with which they feed their young. They are also characterized by the possession of sweat glands, hair, three middle ear bones used in hearing, and a neocortex region in the brain.

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