The archer fish is famous for its ability to precisely shoot prey from several meters away with a powerful jet of water from its mouth.
Toxotes jaculatrix, commonly known as the archer fish, lives in the mangroves of South and Southeast Asia, where they spend much of their time sneaking prey below the surface of the water to hit and hit it with a powerful jet of water from the sky or whatever surface always on which it sits and then swallow it whole. The arrowfish’s incredible accuracy has long fascinated scientists, especially as studies have shown that it can adjust to various factors, such as gravity or the distance from its target, to maximize its chances of success.
Photo: Chrumps / Wikimedia Commons
Archers hunt insects, spiders, or small lizards, keeping their mouths just above the surface of the water as calm as possible, ready to shoot their watery arrows at unsuspecting victims. They shoot anything that moves or lights up and are surprisingly accurate when aiming at prey up to 2 meters away. This jet of water is pretty strong too. One study reports that it stings almost like an insect bite when hit in the face.
To create a jet of water that is powerful and accurate to hit a small target hard enough to knock it into the water, the archerfish turns its mouth into a gun barrel by pressing its tongue against a groove in the roof of the mouth. When ready to fire, it compresses its gills to force the water out and it continually changes the shapes of its mouth so that the stream of water successfully aims and fires at prey.
Scientists also found that the archer fish shoots the water at the end of the creek faster than at the beginning, ensuring that the sprayed water hits the target with maximum force and increases the likelihood of it being unbalanced and falling into the water .
“I can’t think of a weapon developed by a human that increases its speed as it approaches the target,” Alberto Vailati, professor of fluid dynamics at the University of Milan, told the BBC. “That’s the most effective way to hit the target.”
Another study that analyzed high-speed camera images of both the fish and the stream of water found that this natural marksman adjusts the way he shoots to ensure he hits his target with the strongest possible beam, whether or not they are few Centimeters from it or two meters away.
Since their ammunition is virtually unlimited, archer fish are known to be very trigger lucky and shoot their streams multiple times until the prey is knocked down or moves out of range. Interestingly enough, archers only show their sniper skills in the wild. Scientists used laboratory experiments to train specimens to shoot fake targets, but they never showed the same accuracy and power.