Weird Wildlife Wednesday: The Robin Hood of Fish
I write about fish a lot. I just can’t help it, there are just so many weird kinds.
Meet Toxotes jaculatrix, also known as the banded archer fish. Jaculatrix sounds like it would be some kind of S&M thing but it isn’t, it means “thrower” or “caster,” (of darts) and the fish is named thus because it hunts its prey by shooting ‘darts’ of water out of its mouth.
Species: T. jaculatrix
An inhabitant of southern and southeast Asia, these fish live in the brackish waters at the roots of mangrove trees. The fish hunts insects by compressing gill covers and forcing water through a narrow opening formed between the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Once the prey is hit, the fish begins swimming toward it and are capable of reaching the insect within 50 milliseconds of its contact with the water.The largest of the breed grow up to 30cm in length are capable of hitting fish from 2-3 meters away.
This fish happens to have been in the news lately; animal physiologists of the University of Bayreuth in Germany Peggy Gerullis and Stefan Schuster trained archer fish to aim at certain targets and filmed them with high-speed cameras. The targets were moved to different heights and the researchers observed that the fish would adjust the speed of the water so that it would be the most focused immediately prior to hitting the target.