Tuesday, April 2, 2013

This Weird Crafty Fish Can Make Itself Invisible--And We Don't Know How

Pirate Perch
Pirate Perch Wikimedia Commons
It fools prey into thinking it's not even there. Is it using some kind of never-before-seen chemical camouflage? 
PopSci - The pirate perch, Aphredoderus sayanus, is a very strange creature: it's a small fish, only 5.5 inches long at most, that's the only species in its family. Its cloaca (sort of a combination waste and reproduction opening) is right under its chin, it breeds by secretly dropping eggs into a mass of tangled wood, it'll eat anything in your fish tank (hence its name), and now it's exhibiting some exceedingly odd predatory behavior.

The pirate perch, native to freshwater environments in North America, was the subject of a study published in The American Naturalist. It's not a particularly well-understood fish, being solitary and nocturnal and all-around mysterious, so two researchers decided to try to see how exactly it preys.

The experiment had frogs and aquatic beetles lay eggs in an environment populated by different types of potential predators that might want to chomp down on some eggs.