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Oh, Dear God No: Here Are Some Catfish Hunting And Eating Pigeons

This morning in Things That Will Certainly Haunt Your Dreams, here are some catfish in France that have learned to hunt pigeons. The fish, which are not native to the River Tarn where they now dwell, were introduced about three decades ago, and in the ensuing time, have apparently developed a hunting technique never before seen in the animals — the fish loiter in shallow water near sandbars populated by pigeons and, when a wayward bird steps close enough, the catfish lunge at it, dragging their feathered prey back into the water with them. You can check out the behavior in the video below, or you can just look directly at my worst nightmares if that is easier. Which I hope it’s not.

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The hunting technique will be familliar to anyone who has seen a crocodile bag a zebra at a watering hole, or watched a killer whale breach onto an ice floe for a tasty penguin. This is the first time European catfish has been known to display the behavior, according to Julien Cucherousset of Paul Sabatier University, who captured the footage above after hearing about it from fishermen on the river, who were presumably rightly horrified at the 3-4 foot long fish leaping from the water onto shore to take a flapping, warm-blooded meal.

The technique is effective — Cucherousset found that the catfish came away with a meal 28% of the time they lunged onto land for a meal — but dangerous as well. Since the catfish are essentially beaching themselves when they attack prey on land, they run the risk of being stuck there if things go wrong. As to why the fish developed this hunting technique to supplement their usual diet of fish, the jury is still out and research is ongoing.

(via Slashdot via NERS)

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