Copyright The Columbia University PressThe Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. The Columbia University Press
mudskipper, name for fish of several genera in the subfamily Oxudercinae of the goby family, found in coastal waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans and on the Atlantic coast of Africa. The typically drab-colored fish live chiefly on mud flats and in brackish mangrove swamps and are adapted for remaining on dry land when the tide goes out. They are relatively small; the largest reaches 10 in. (25 cm). They have no special air-breathing organs, but absorb oxygen through the skin and gill chambers as long as these remain moist. When out of water, mudskippers use the fleshy bases of their pectoral fins for propulsion on the ground, and members of the larger species can skip faster than a person can move. Protruding, mobile eyes give mudskippers a froglike appearance. Their diet includes insects and small fish. Mudskippers are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Perciformes, family Gobiidae.
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