Super Soaker! Spitting Fish Target Prey with Amazing Aim
by: Stephanie Pappas
Asia’s zebra-striped archerfish “shoot” their prey with streams of water that they use as a tool, a new study finds. Archerfish aren’t the only fish that use tools; the Pacific orange-dotted tuskfish uses rocks to crush clamshells. But archerfish are the only fish known to use adjustable jets of water as tools, according to the new study, published today (Sept. 4) in the journal Current Biology.
The fish can shoot land-based prey — including insects, spiders and even lizards — off of leaves and branches and into the water from a distance of up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) away. Previous research had found that the fish gather the water between the tongue and the roof of the mouth, forming a gun-barrel-like shape before spitting it out in powerful streams. In the new study, the researchers found that the fish modulate these jets so that the water is focused into a powerful point before impact — a talent that would seem to require a lot of brainpower.
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