Archer fish knock their insect prey out of overhanging vegetation with a jet of water several times more powerful than the fish's muscles. New research now shows that the fish generate this power externally using water dynamics rather than with any specialized internal organs. The research, published Oct. 24 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Alberto Vailati and colleagues from the University of Milan, provides the first explanation for how archer fish can generate such powerful jets to capture their prey.
Other animals like chameleons and salamanders store energy in collagen fibers in their bodies and abruptly release this stored energy to project their tongues at high speeds, but previous studies on archer fish have ruled out such specialized organs as the source of the powerful water jets.
Vailati A, Zinnato L, Cerbino R (2012) How Archer Fish Achieve a Powerful Impact: Hydrodynamic Instability of a Pulsed Jet in Toxotes jaculatrix. PLoS ONE 7(10): e47867. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047867
Public Library of Science: http://www.plos.org
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