A new study is out showing Asia’s archerfish ‘shooting’ its prey with streams of water. Environmental advantages aren’t unique to archerfish, but is the only fish known to use adjustable jets of water as tools.

The archerfish shot has some range too. The fish can pop insects, spiders, lizards and other land-based prey from up to 6.5 feet away. These prey best watch out if they hang out on low-hanging branches near water.

Check out the video below to see the archerfish ‘shooting’ in action.

What’s happening? Research in recent years showed the archerfish gathered water between its tongue and roof of its mouth. This formed a barrel-like shape right before the fish spat out streams of water.

This most recent study shows the archerfish adjusted its ‘shot’ to form a blob of water just before impact. It starts as a normal jet of water, but the archerfish adjusted the stream of water to form a big drop of water just prior to impacting its prey.

Stefan Schuster of the University of Bayreuth in Germany along with Peggy Gerullis made the discovery. They published their results in the journal Current Biology.

Schuster had this say in a press release. “This is really an impressive capability and requires – among many fascinating aspects – precise time control of movement. It is believed that this ability has forced our brains to become bigger, housing many more neurons to afford the precision. With the many neurons around, they could be used for other tasks apart from applying them for powerful throws. It is remarkable that the same line of reasoning could also be applied to archerfish.”

Schuster also points to human applications from observing the archerfish. The precision by which the archerfish controls the jet of water could have applications in human-built nozzles according to Schuster.

Archerfish aren’t the only ones to use water to their advantage. Triggerfish are known to blow water in order to expose sea urchins weaker side.


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