With around 28,000 species of fish on the planet, there are lots of varied hunting game plans. The one named Toxotes, a genus better known as archer fish is the most unique. Diet of these fish is terrestrial insects, which perhaps look problematic. However, the fish has the power to transform their mouths into souped-up squirt guns and blast their prey from several meters away. Peggy Gerullis and Stefan Schuster of University of Bayreuth did a study to infer how these fish can be such lethal hunters by tuning the jets of water. The paper was published in the journal Current Biology.
These fish haven’t grown a specialized organ deployed for shooting water; they’ve learned to work with what they have. An earlier search discovered that by sticking the tongue next to the roof of the mouth, the fish are able to create a structure like a gun barrel. Shutting and pressing the gills compels the water to gush out and blast the intended target. This is really impressive keeping in mind the fish need to account for the bending of light on the surface of the water.
Gerullis and Schuster gave training to nine archer fish (T. jaculatrix) to fire at targets that were set up 20, 40, and 60 centimeters away. The process was videotaped with a high-speed camera, in order to tease apart any subtleties that might exist between the fish shooting at a nearer target versus one farther away. A great facet of this attack is that the water doesn’t strike the insect in a steady stream. Rather, the torrent of water moves faster toward the back than it is at the front. It fuses seconds before it reaches the prey, delivering a powerful wallop.
Archer fish open their mouths rather slowly and use surplus water when shooting at targets that are at a greater distance than when aiming at closer targets. This helps them to adjust the stream and make for a more lethal attack. The researchers opine that the skill of archer fish to spew water to nab a tasty insect, is simply on par to our ability to throw and could be deemed a form of tool use.
As this trait has been a factor in our cognitive advances, it could point out that archer fish are reasonably brainy as well. Science reports that Schuster will assist in inventing a nozzle that builds off the principles of archer fish spitting.