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One Man’s Meat is Another Man’s Poisson

By on December 14th, 2012

For your Friday lunchtime…enjoyment?

Seems some catfish in southern France have taken their name a bit too literally. Researchers have found a group of European catfish (Silurus glanis)—at sizes of up to 1.5 meters long, Europe’s largest freshwater fish—living in the River Tarn that have somehow learned to catch pigeons, adopting a strategy not unlike that of killer whales: they sneak up under the water, then lunge out, jaws a-snapping, and drag the hapless bird back into water. It is admittedly a little hit or miss (the scientists recorded 54 attempts, of which 28% were successful), but the birds don’t help matters by wading in the water looking for their own meals.

Says SciTech Daily:

The erect barbels on S. glanis’ upper jaws, combined with the fact that only moving pigeons were attacked, indicates that the fish are sensing the vibrations of the birds as they approached the water.

Scientists were informed of this behavior by local fisherman, but are unsure why or how the fish adopted this behavior. They surmise that they overfished their natural prey and have had to seek alternative food sources. They published their findings in the journal PLOS ONE.

And there’s even video: