By behaving this way, the chameleon fish can assume the colour and size of about 50 other species of fish in the surrounding seas, all of them much larger and more imposing than the Chameleon Fish.  The fish can maintain this disguise for up to eight hours, before they have to revert to their normal size. If a chameleon fish is caught by fishermen, it will change colour every two minutes, something which alarms the people of the area, who invariably believe the fish is the devil’s work and will throw it back into the sea.

It’s estimated Chameleon Fish spend about 80% of their time looking like other fish, a statistic which makes it difficult to know whether their numbers are in decline or not. Suffice to say, if the reader is swimming in the seas around Indonesia or the Philippines and sees a fish transform into another fish, you aren’t seeing things, you are just very lucky to have witnessed a Chameleon fish, doing what comes naturally to the greatest mimic in the oceans of the world.

This is an extract from the book Animals Evolution Avoided