Updated 07:22 AM EST, Mon, Mar 01, 2021

Archerfish Squirt Water at Prey with Amazing Accuracy [Video]

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You've heard of the fish-eating spiders, right? Well how about a fish that eats spiders and anything else of similar size. Scientists have known for years that the rainforest's archerfish can shoot jets of water from their mouths and hit targets in the air; however, until now no one knew just how accurate these amazing marksfish could be. Bugs and tiny animals aren't safe when in the proximity of the archerfish, who routinely knock their prey off any branch or perch and into the water for a fresh meal.

A recent study published in this month's Current Biology journal details that the precision of the archerfish's aim is far beyond what scientists had previously thought. There are many species of archerfish, or of the genus Toxotes, and they are found in parts of Southeast Asia. According to researcher Alberto Vailati, if one of these fish was to shoot you in the face with its waterjet, it would sting "like an insect bite."

In order to achieve such a high velocity and concentrated stream of water, archerfish must focus water into one giant stream. Stefan Schuster and fellow researcher Peggy Gerullis decided to study this process, and they found some very interesting information along the way. But they started their research by training archerfish to hit targets inside their tank at various intervals of distance. This allowed the team to measure how hard and how fast the fish shoot their water streams, and it also provided the team a chance to record the archerfish in slow motion.

What the team found is that archerfish "continually change the shapes of their mouths" when shooting their streams, according to National Geographic. Specifically, archerfish shoot their streams in such a way that the water at the end of the stream travels faster than the water first shot out of their mouths. By doing this, more of the water arrives at its target at the same time and hits the prey with more of a burst than a continuous stream of water.

Shuster and Vailati feel the archerfish are manipulating water in a way that qualifies as using a tool. Shuster claims the techniques of the archerfish are "analogous to a human throwing a stick."

"If they just threw the stick, it wouldn't count as using a tool because they didn't change it," Schuster continued. "But if they sharpened it or removed branches, that would be a tool."

Check out this National Geographic video of the archerfish in action.

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