Monday, December 10, 2012

Catfish Come Ashore To Hunt Pigeons

Here is something you don’t see every day…

European catfish living in the River Tarn in southwestern France have learned to hunt pigeons by lunging up and out of the water and onto dry land. The fish grab a pigeon and then manage to wriggle back into the water with their avian prey in tow. The behavior is very similar to that of killer whales hurling themselves onto land or ice packs to feed on seals. Dolphins, too, have been observed using the technique to hunt. The big difference here is that both killer whales and dolphins are mammals. As true air breathers, both of these species are better equipped to spend time out of the water than a fish. The hunting technique is bold and risky as it requires the catfish to beach themselves on land for a time. The danger of becoming stranded would seem very real.

Check out the rather amazing footage of these catfish in action below:

An abstract on the behavior published in the scientific journal Plos One speculated that the behavior is a result of an introduced species that finds itself in unfamiliar surroundings with prey different from that it is used to pursuing.

“Since this extreme behavior has not been reported in the native range of the species, our results suggest that some individuals in introduced predator populations may adapt their behavior to forage on novel prey in new environments, leading to behavioral and trophic specialization to actively cross the water-land interface,” notes one passage in the abstract.

In simpler terms, necessity is the mother of invention. The catfish, apparently stocked, or introduced in some other way, in this particular environment might have been having a hard time finding whatever food stuff they subsisted on in their native habitat. This, the theory goes, would lead them to try other methods, even risky ones, to capture new prey.

The ability of animals to adapt to new and changing situations is quite amazing. I never cease to be amazed by nature and the many surprises it holds. There is literally no telling what you might see out there. This story should also remind us that we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do.

Source: Yahoo News

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