The “anti-aircraft gunner” of the aquatic world has evolved such unerring eyesight and precise control that it can shoot down flying insects by spitting out a jet of water.
Amid the many methods that animals have devised for hunting their prey — the sticky webs that spiders use to catch insects or the fake tasty morsel some turtles display in their mouths — the shooting technique of archerfish stands out.
Sometimes dubbed the “anti-aircraft gunners” of the aquatic world, the tiny archerfish — it’s typically just a few inches long — has evolved such unerring eyesight and precise control that it can shoot down the flying insects it feeds on by spitting out a jet of water from a distance of several feet. The insects then fall into the water, where they can be easily eaten.
Its sharp-shooting abilities are legendary. Studies have shown archerfish almost never miss their target, even though they have to correct their aim for the refraction of the surface of the water they shoot through. And stories from their native India relate that they could extinguish the cigarette of visiting Englishmen who got too close to a river or pond, apparently after mistaking the lit end for a glowing insect.
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