Catfish have alway freaked me out. Don’t get me wrong, I have a few in my tropical tank, but I’ve heard scary stories about them such as ones the size of buses scaring unsuspecting divers so bad their hair turns grey. But this, oh my..
Catfish, in what researchers call ‘evidence of adaptive behavior’, have been recorded leaping out of the water and grabbing pigeons. Now just take a second and read that again…
Discover Magazine’s Ed Yong writes: “These particular catfish have taken to lunging out of the water, grabbing a pigeon, and then wriggling back into the water to swallow their prey. In the process, they temporarily strand themselves on land for a few seconds.”
The video (below) is of European catfish in the River Tarn in southwestern France. The fish in the footage are between three and five feet long and are seen approaching the feeding pigeons before leaping at, and in once case catching, the unsuspecting birds.
The behaviour has been seen in certain dolphins and killer whales before, however they are mammals and can survive briefly on land, catfish are, em, fish and therefore can’t.
Julien Cucherousset from Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse called the catfish “freshwater killer whales.”
The scientific journal Plos One has written about the phenomenon: “Among a total of 45 beaching behaviors observed and filmed, 28% were successful in bird capture… Since this extreme behavior has not been reported in the native range of the species, our results suggest that some individuals in introduced predator populations may adapt their behavior to forage on novel prey in new environments, leading to behavioral and trophic specialization to actively cross the water-land interface.”
Altogether now… shudder