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Victor Huertas and David Bellwood

Scientists have figured out how one of the world's few coral-eating fish is able to withstand the venomous sting of sharp coral as it feeds: they lubricate their lips with mucous in order to quickly touch the coral and form a suction to remove the flesh. The finding helps ecologists to better understand how fish feeding can affect a reef.

How it works: Using scanning electron microscopy, researchers found the lips of the aptly-named tubelip wrasse are covered in thin mucous-producing membranes similar to the gills of a mushroom. In the fraction of a second the fish feeds, it doesn't latch on to the coral but seals its mouth over it and sucks up the coral's mucous.

"To our knowledge, this type of lip has never been recorded before," James Cook University marine biologist David Bellwood told Reuters.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
8 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.