[This timely article was written by Ananya Sen, a graduate student in microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is reprinted here with her permission. Ms. Sen is also a science writer and her articles can be found at http://ananyasen.web.illinois.edu/. This article was originally published as a Spotlight piece in Nautilus (http://nautil.us/)] Becoming a parent brings out the best in many animals. Although parenting is usually left to the females, males from many species go above and beyond to care for the offspring. Take anemonefish. In “Finding Nemo,” Marlin swims over 1,000 miles from the Great Barrier Reef to Sydney to rescue his son Nemo, who had been captured by scuba divers. In reality, anemonefish rarely stray so far away from their home. But, like Marlin, they are excellent fathers. Anemonefish, commonly called clownfish (photo by Dr. Justin Rhodes), live in sea anemones (https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-31305-4_27), and reside in the same location for most of their lives. Although sea anemones are one of the most venomous creatures in the sea, clownfish are immune because they have a mucus layer on their skin that protects them. This setup helps both animals. Clownfish usually lay their eggs on a patch of bare rock that is protected by the poisonous tentacles of sea anemones. In exchange, the territorial fish defend the sea anemones from predators. “The males are spectacular fathers,” said Justin Rhodes (https://psychology.illinois.edu/directory/profile/jrhodes), PhD from University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Psychology Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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