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Like A Fish out of Water


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#1    frogfish

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Posted 14 April 2006 - 08:03 PM

Quote

African fish leaps for land bugs  
By Rebecca Morelle
BBC News science reporter  


Sam Van Wassenbergh, University of Antwerp
Scientists have described a fish that can hunt and catch its prey on land.

The eel catfish, Channallabes apus, is found in the muddy swamps of the tropics of western Africa.

The 30-40cm-long (12-16in) fish is able to propel itself out of the water and bend its head downwards to capture insects in its jaws.

The Belgian researchers, writing in the journal Nature, hope this discovery will help to explain how fish moved from sea to land millions of years ago.

Beetle eater

With a small head and a long, flexible body, C. apus has an eel-like appearance.

The fish's diet provided the scientists with the first clue to its remarkable behaviour - it mainly eats beetles which are found on land.

After an expedition to study the fish in its swampy habitat in Gabon, Africa, the team brought some of the animals back to Belgium for further research.

They placed the fish in a specially designed aquarium with both wet and muddy areas, mimicking C. apus's natural environment.

"We pointed high-speed video cameras towards the place where we had left the prey and waited until the fish was hungry enough to leave the water and catch it," explained Sam Van Wassenbergh, an author on the Nature paper and a biologist from the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

"The first time we saw it, we were amazed - it was really spectacular."

The fish captures its prey by propelling itself onto the shore, raising the front part of its body and bending its head downwards over the insect.


Usually, the fish uses suction to feed underwater; but because air is much less dense than water, the fish needs to employ a new strategy to catch its food.

"The way it positions its head prevents the prey from being pushed away," said Mr Van Wassenbergh.

"This way it can place its jaws over the prey; and when it is strongly between the jaws, the fish will return to the water where it can further ingest the insect."

C. apus has a specially adapted spine which gives it extra flexibility, allowing it to tilt its head. The fish uses the rest of its long body to maintain stability while it is out of the water.

From sea to land

The best studied fish that feeds on land is the mudskipper. It feeds using a similar method to the catfish, but can use its pectoral fins to hop onto land and to lift and lower its head.

  
The researchers hope the discovery of another species of land-going fish will help shed light on how sea creatures evolved into land-living tetrapods during the Devonian Period, about 400 million years ago.

They say C. apus bears similarities to fossils found from this period, including the recently described Tiktaalik rosea.

This creature, found in Arctic Canada, may be a "missing link" between sea and land-living animals.

"[T. rosea] had a neck that appears to be quite mobile, and strong fins. If you ask me if it could feed terrestrially in a similar way to catfish or mudskippers - I would say it probably could," said Mr Van Wassenbergh.


Link to article

Catfish hunt VIDEO
*video has short Nat'l Geographic commercial*



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#2    Pax Unum

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Posted 14 April 2006 - 10:39 PM

very interesting!  thumbsup.gif


#3    frogfish

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Posted 15 April 2006 - 01:24 AM

What a interesting creature indeed yes.gif I wasn't surprised by the fact that it comes onto land, but the fact that it hunts on land also!

Reminds me of the arrowana of the Amazon.

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#4    Ravinar

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Posted 15 April 2006 - 07:17 AM

found a pic of it for you guys.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Chapu_u0.jpg

the human race is at an end and and my soul grows weary. the one thing that could revive it is almost gone and is in no condition to heal me. yet i shall not despair for the light of hope shines even in the greatest darkness. i shall continue to hope.... hope for the days of green and ever lasting love of all things. for those whom think them selfs better shall realize they are not all that is. nor are they in any way better for all life is equal.

#5    frogfish

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 01:03 AM

The video shows how they hunt yes.gif It is amazing!

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#6    Psychokinesis

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 08:35 PM

Interesting thread.


#7    frogfish

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 08:39 PM

Amazing how it got that...Is it an evolutionary leftover, or just ingenuity?

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#8    Psychokinesis

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 08:48 PM

Ingenuity, I guess.





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