African tigerfish Smithsonian Channel / YouTube
sometimes eat fish. This we know. In my mind's eye I can picture a bald eagle
majestically scooping a salmon from the water. But this ain't that. This is
about fish eating flying birds.
fish don't catch birds in mid-air and eat them, I hear you protesting. Well,
nobody told that to the African tigerfish.
Smit, a researcher at North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa,
traveled to the country's Mapungubwe National Park to study the habitat and
migration of African tigerfish, a toothy little bugger that must really scare
the shit out of barn swallows. And for good reason.
During Smit's study, published this month in the Journal of Fish Biology, he and
his colleagues witnessed these fish jumping out of the water and snagging barn
swallows, up to 20 times. Per day. This is the first time that scientists have
witnessed a freshwater fish preying upon a bird in mid-flight, according to
Although the video quality isn't exactly top-notch, you'll be able to see a
large fish jumping out of the water and snagging a barn swallow in the
left-center of the frame.
whole action of jumping and catching the swallow in flight happens so incredibly
quickly that after we first saw it, it took all of us a while to really fully
comprehend what we had just seen,” Smit told Nature News.
African tigerfish, or Hydrocynus vittatus (which translates to "spotted water
dog, " according to the Smithsonian Channel), can grow up to more than 3 feet in
length and weigh up to 22 pounds.
Thought experiment: what would happen if a tigerfish tried to eat a fish-eating
bird? Or a fishing bat? I don't claim to have an answer.
Source: Popular Science/Science URL: