Monday, October 09, 2006

 

Archerfish tune their shots to universal properties of prey adhesion

Archerfish exhibit the remarkable ability to hunt for insects and other small terrestrial animals by firing precisely aimed streams of water that knock prey onto the water's surface. These water shots were once thought to be all-or-none in quality, but researchers have now discovered new levels of sophistication in the archerfish's hunting strategy that shed light on how this impressive predatory behavior has evolved.

...The findings suggest that the tuning aspect of the archerfish's hunting strategy is not as plastic in response to learning as might have been thought. Instead, the strategy may reflect the evolution of archerfish behavior in accordance with a recently discovered scaling law: Among animals such as flies and lizards, an animal's adhesive force - its natural tendency to stick to a surface - is closely proportional to the animal's size.

The researchers showed that for any given size of prey, the archerfish tune their attacks such that prey are hit with about ten times the force that adhesive organs of animals of that size could sustain. [Science]
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Based on "Archerfish shots are evolutionarily matched to prey adhesion" (No Abstract available - Full Text requires subsciption to Current Biology.

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