Archerfish mouth is the secret of precision spit | Science News

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Archerfish mouth is the secret of precision spit

Shooting gobs of water at targets requires quick changes and fine control

By
4:51pm, September 4, 2014
archerfish spitting

SPIT POWER  An archerfish can weaponize water into a high-impact blob thanks to subtle variations in its mouth opening. 

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When archerfish hunt by precision spitting water into the air, they do a lot more with their mouths than put their lips together and blow.

If a Toxotes archerfish can’t jump high enough to snatch an insect off an overhanging leaf, the fish spits a water stream upward that knocks prey off its perch. In a quirk that puts extra punch into the water blast, the fish fires the trailing end of a water stream faster than the water released at the beginning.

Archerfish in the lab have revealed that they tailor the extra punch depending on the height of their target, says physiologist Stefan Schuster of the University of Bayreuth in Germany. The fish blasted several of his hypotheses about how they manage their sophisticated spitting. But high-speed videos of the target shooters finally linked water speed control to split-second

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