Fast Food Fish

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Fast food fish twice as fast as humans, according to a report in New Scientist , 5 Oct 2002, p21. Scientists at the University of Freiburg, Germany have been studying the archer fish that catches insects by shooting them down with spurts of water. As well as being an accurate shot, the fish must also be able to quickly move in and grab the shot-down prey before some other fish helps itself. Stefan Schuster's team worked out how quickly and accurately the archer fish can move to retrieve its prey once it has been shot down. The fish reacts within 100 milliseconds after a successful shot and heads straight for the spot where the insect will land before it has hit the water. This means the fish's brain collects and processes all information needed to predict trajectory of the insect's fall within 100 milliseconds, and sends the fish straight there. Schuster commented that archer fish would make better outfielders than humans in cricket and baseball, because humans keep their eye on the ball and run in a curved path to where it will land. This takes more time and energy than moving in a straight line.

Editorial Comment: The archer fish has long been used as an example of design because in order to shoot down objects above the water surface, it has to compensate for the way light bends as it passes from air to water. This new study adds further evidence of inherent creative design. (Ref. fish, insects design)

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