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African Catfish Hunts On Land 176

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-just-creepy dept.
Dave Knott writes "The journal Nature will be publishing a report on an African catfish that hunts its prey on land. The fish wriggles out of the swamps to catch land-based prey. From the article: 'The eel catfish, Channallabes apus, catches unsuspecting victims by arching upwards and descending upon prey, trapping an insect against the ground before sucking it up. The same trick may have been used by the very first vertebrates to venture onto land, the researchers speculate.' There is a video of the fish in action."
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African Catfish Hunts On Land

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  • Africa eh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @01:32AM (#15136972) Journal
    I predict that, as Africa industrializes, the level of pollution will increase & these catfish will mutate into giant man-eating catfish.

    Also, there will be no worshiping of Catfish Over Lords. They cannot understand you. Prostrating yourself beneath them will merely make their task easier.
  • by Yst (936212) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @01:32AM (#15136973)
    Did Slashdot just report on a topic in evolutionary biology without using the phrase "missing link" to describe a theorised stage in development? Isn't there a rule against this or something?
  • direct link (Score:5, Informative)

    by blhack (921171) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @01:32AM (#15136974)
    Direct link to video:

    Link [nature.com]
  • Well, I'll be a fish's uncle
    • Actually, if we insist upon strict monophyletic terminology, then you are a fish, all your uncles are fish, and contrary to all those kindergarden level "cool facts!" nature videos, whales are, in fact, also fish. There is simply no way to draw a family tree that both includes all fish and their descedants but also excludes every tetrapod that every lived.

  • Someone needs to add this to the eel catfish [wikipedia.org] article on Wikipedia. It's a little lacking.
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @01:41AM (#15137008) Homepage Journal
    Of course fish can jump out of water. How else could they get into Noah's Ark?
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @01:46AM (#15137025) Homepage Journal
    Fish hunting on land and mammals turning into ocean swimmers? [wikipedia.org] The world is going mad, I'll tell ya, mad!
    • I always liked the idea that the land-dwelling ancestor of the whales said "fsck this, we're going back in the water".
      • land-dwelling ancestor of the whales said "fsck this, we're going back in the water"

        I believe it went more like ...

        Pre-weasel: "Whoa, looking pretty chunky there!"
        Pre-whale: "I'm big boned!"
        Pre-weasel: "Ya know, swimming is the best form of exercise."

        The rest is evolutionary history ...
  • Let's see... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by greenguy (162630) <estebandidoNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday April 16, 2006 @01:51AM (#15137040) Homepage Journal
    This fish hunts land-borne insects... like the archer fish. But it leaves the water... like the mudskipper. And TFA doesn't even indicate that it breathes air, like the lungfish (or the mudskipper).

    Somebody clarify how this is news.
    • Re:Let's see... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nwbvt (768631) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:33AM (#15137124)
      I would say going onto land to hunt insects (as opposed to merely hunting insects from the water or merely going on land) makes this interesting. No, its not a halt the presses type of news, but that doesn't keep it from being an interesting article.
    • Re:Let's see... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rxke (644923)
      You could see it as a very early, primitive stage of going-to-the-land.

      Probably, when there were no earth dwelling creatures bigger than insects, those insects would be an easy catch to anything that started to jump out of the water to get at them, because they had no defenses for something like that happening (why would they, it never happened, evolving strategies against such attacks would be wasteful, and not help them in their fitness...)
      So fish that adapted this strategy would've had had ample, 'unsusp
    • Somebody clarify how this is news.

      It's not news, but no matter, it's stuff that's good enough for /. : )
  • Now that's the way to go fishing. Sit by the water and the fish come to you!
  • by zephc (225327) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:08AM (#15137075)
  • by Proto23 (931154) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:44AM (#15137143)
    Given a lot of time, how do fish start to crawl out of the water just because they catch insects this way?
    • Did you miss biology classes at school? Look up selection, mutation etc...
    • Given a lot of time, how do fish start to crawl out of the water just because they catch insects this way?
      1. Fish catch insects on the surface in deep water
      2. Insects are in short supply so fish move into shallow water to find food
      3. Fish have to almost leave the water to find insects
      4. Fish reach out of the water to get insects then slide back in
    • Probably due to the environment found in temporary waterways, freshwater eels often go across fields from dam to stream or vica-verse at nighttime. The eels use dams to breed, usually during or after rain. In Australia the lungfish goes from pond to pond using it's fins to push it along. Most permanent water in the Australian outback is in artesian springs seperated by desert but every few years the desrt floods, fish and frogs "come out of the sand" and water birds somehow "know" the inland sea has formed.
    • Given a lot of time, how do fish start to crawl out of the water just because they catch insects this way?

      They don't, land animals do not descend directly from eels (eeles don't have a jaw).

      However, just look in the science section, they have a missing link of a legged fish.
      Not to mention the living fishies what got leg-like fins (aroud australia I think). They mostly use them to hang on to rocks IIRC.

      I mean, to go from "fin to swim" to "legs to crawl" isn't hard to picture (tougher fins). The fish that bre
    • You can get an overview of the general principles here [wikipedia.org]. This [unsw.edu.au] books is pretty old but it's still good and in some ways it's better than modern texts because it doesn't take anything for granted. This [amazon.com] is a good modern popular account of the kinds of processes involved. By time you've read all three of these you should be in a pretty good position to think about how feet might develop. None of this tells you anything about how feet actually did develop - it just removes roadblocks that make such development se
  • Try this (mplayer barfs unless you download it first)

    movie [nature.com]

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @03:03AM (#15137175)
    I don't know why the Evolutionary contingent makes a big fuss about this video. Hasn't anyone noticed the Hand Of God at the start of the segment?

    Not only is this video evidence that this experiment was Intelligently Designed, but in fact it proves the IMHO more important point that God Has A Tapping Finger. Take that Richard Dawkins, God Actually Captured On Video!

  • Can't you all see? These are not mere fish, these are THE DEEP ONES!
  • shame on you slashdot. satan deposits funny bones in rocks and creates demonic catfish to lead you astray of the lord. you people consider yourselves so smart, and yet you fall so easily for satan's tricks
    • That Satan created the visible world? That's Manichaeanism. Which is a schismatic religion. To avoid that, you have to posit that God created all those things to lead us astray right down to putting just the right amount of radionucleides in the rocks to make it look as though unstable nuclei had been fissioning for billions of years. Which means that God tells lies. Which is a major heresy.

      So either we should be burning the Dover school board at the stake for Manichaenism or for denying the truthfulness of

      • It's funny. Creationists are habitual liars, and their vision of God is of a being who lies on the grandest scale imaginable: who concocted an entire universe full of false and misleading evidence. It's interesting how people project their own failings onto their understanding of God.
  • This african fish is no match for the cleverest species of them all...

    The Landshark!!! [jt.org]
  • Walking catfish (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cciRRus (889392)
    In Southeast Asia, catfish that comes out of the water is not really surprising. For example, the "Walking Catfish" [scotcat.com] can "walk" from pond to pond in search of better living conditions.
    • "Before the beginning, there was this turtle. And the turtle was alone. And he looked around, and he saw his neighbor, which was his mother. And he lay down upon his neighbor, and behold! she bore him in tears an oak tree, which grew all day and then fell over -- like a bridge. And lo! underneath this bridge there came a catfish. And he was very big. And he was walking. And he was the biggest he had seen. And so were the fiery balls of this fish, one of which was the sun, and the other, they called the moon
    • Egads, man! That article says that your walking catfish came from Thailand...same place that had the gigantic 620lb catfish (about which I posted in a different thread above, http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=183243&cid=151 37820 [slashdot.org] )
    • the "Walking Catfish" can "walk" from pond to pond in search of better living conditions.

      I wonder if this guy can do it too, from the video it only seems to do a grab and retreat without ever completely leaving the water.
  • This was recently in the news; The scientist on the study noted the amazing thing was that the fish can eat prey exactly in the way they do underwater by "sucking it in" which doesn't allow air to come in their mouths. It would be considered a breakthrough as it proved there isn't a long evolutionary progress required to be able to feed on land as previously assumed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 16, 2006 @06:02AM (#15137520)
    German catfish eats a dog [solent-fis...uide.co.uk]: "I couldn't believe my eyes. I heard the old woman screaming, she kept saying, 'My dog, my dog,' and pointing wildly at the water."

    -------------------
    Phone backup, contact management [contempo.biz]

  • Is it coincidence that this is an eel catfish?

    The similarity between this fish and the FSM's Noodly Appendage should be enough evidence for ANYONE to see that the FSM is the one true creator.

    RAmen
  • Why "Africa"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aaron.rowe (40518) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @06:34AM (#15137560) Homepage Journal
    Why is it "the tropical swamps of Africa", rather than an idea about the countries involved?

    Africa is a huge place, The Worlds second largest and second-most populous continent after Asia with a hugely diverse population in 61 countries and territories.

    My point is if you hear about animals found in "tropical swamps of" Asia, or North or South America you would normally hear the actual country or even state within the country it was found in otherwise you have no idea what sort of environment to imagine.

    From "tropical swamps" we can only derive that it's one of the countries in Sub-Saharan africa that fall in the tropics, and that's the biggest, most diverse part and it's not one big swamp!

    I could forgive them if these fish eel things are swimming all over sub saharan africa but then I would have to say what the hell have they been doing all this time?

    If they are everywhere then I've probably eaten a few of these myself. Mmmm.
    • I could forgive them if these fish eel things are swimming all over sub saharan africa but then I would have to say what the hell have they been doing all this time?

      The "news" here is that Nature is publishing an article about them - they're well known and have been for ages.

    • Re:Why "Africa"? (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by sumdumass (711423)
      It might apear that they left the country out so you don't know it is some secluded remote area that hasn't completley been explored yet. This way it could possibly be claimed as a recent evolutionary step to prove evolution.

      I'm not sure if any of the above are true but after reading a few other comments, I'm already seeing people attribute this behavior to recent evolution. It could be that this behavior was already the norm for several thousand years for this particular species at this particular place.
    • Re:Why "Africa"? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nwbvt (768631)
      Well, according to this [fishbase.org], their known range extends from Angola to the Congo River Basin. So no, they are not confined to just one country or territory, but are spread out amoung several countries. And considering the conflict in that region, that list could easily change any day.
  • Its a goa'uld symbiote. Watch out for glowing eyes and egyptian gods!
  • Not Helpful (Score:2, Interesting)

    by awol (98751)
    Clearly this is not a helpful example to help understand the first creatures to leave the water for the land since there would have been nothing on the land for them to "arch up and pin down" in the first place. Still and interesting behaviour but it is slightly "cart before horse" in term os anything particularly probabtive.
  • by DoorFrame (22108) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @11:29AM (#15138102) Homepage
    Maybe I drastically misunderstand evolution, but it seems highly unlikely that the first fish-like-thing out of the water would have been hunting insects. Theoretically it wouldn't have been hunting ANYTHING, it would have been all alone on the land. Right? It could have tried to hunt, but it would have been awfully lonely and fruitless endeavour.
    • Theoretically it wouldn't have been hunting ANYTHING, it would have been all alone on the land. Right?

      Insects were on land before fish-like things, as were plants. But given the size of bugs in such a drastically different atmosphere, there's a good chance the fish-like things would've been hunted by them.

    • Well, if you really mean "fish-like thing" then there were already plenty of insects on land: insects were never fish like in the first place. Of course, calling them insects at the time isn't really good nomenclature either. They were the mighty protosomes!
  • Carlos Mencia asked last season why it's news when someone goes swimming in the ocean and gets attacked by sharks. He points out that if the guy were at, say, a 7/11 and got attacked by sharks, THAT would be news.

    Now, one of the theories as to why the sharks have been attacking people more often lately is because their usual feeding grounds have been fished out and so they're forced to come into more shallow water to find food. I could forsee an eventual evolutionary advantage for a shark that could emplo

  • Damn Dirty Catfish!
  • Boy, and all this time I thought Catfish Hunter was just a pitcher for the A's... *rimshot*

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