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October 8 2012

Roman Mosaics Help Scientist Track Endangered Fish


A few years ago Paolo Guidetti was leafing through a book on ancient art when he came across a Roman mosaic showing a man's legs dangling from the mouth of an enormous fish. Struck by the picture, Guidetti, a biologist at the University of Salento in Italy, recognized the fish as one that he studies: the dusky grouper.

Today fishers would be hard-pressed to find a dusky grouper that large and so close to the sea's surface. The fish, found throughout the Mediterranean, are endangered. While they can grow to a length of more than four feet and a weight of 100 pounds, most are much smaller, and at sites where fishing pressures are highest they occupy waters too deep to leap out and eat anyone.

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