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(GMA News Online)-Scientists have discovered a unique adaptation of the barbeled dragonfish: a functional, flexible head joint, the first and only example of its kind known to exist among fishes.

The joint connects the skull and vertebral column and allows the fish a much larger degree of maneuverability to ingest prey—as much as 120 degrees. That expanse allows the barbeled dragonfish to wholly ingest fish that are nearly identical in size.

The discovery was made after scientists studied specimens from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and five other natural history collections around the world. Their findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday (February 01).

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forjamesdragonfishflexiblehead1On left Dragonfish’s flexible head joint

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