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How smart is a spitting archerfish?

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Watch how the archerfish hunts for its food and you’ll see how it got its name. With accurate aim, its mouth can shoot a tiny jet of water at insects and other prey located above the water’s surface and as far as six feet away. From KQED’s Deep Look:

“Spitting is exploratory,” explained Caitlin Newport, a zoologist at the University of Oxford, who also studies the fish. Her subjects fire at most things that move within their field of vision, she said, “especially things that are shiny and move quickly.”

Archerfish normally do their spitting in the mangrove forests of Southeast Asia and Australia, where they take aim at ants, beetles and other insects living on the trees’ half-submerged roots. The fish’s high-pressure projectiles knock prey from their perches into the water, and the fish swoops in.

The archerfish’s smart hunting approach is also changing the way scientists are thinking about animal intelligence. The aim, the ‘tool’ use… and their ability to recognize faces. Find out more in this Deep Look episode: Archerfish Says…”I Spit in Your Face!”


File under hunting, food chains, and smart animals, including More Evidence Birds Can Count: Where’d that other mealworm go? How to Speak Chimpanzee, Communicating with dolphins using echolocation, and a wild crow solves a puzzle in 8 parts.

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