Weekend Diversion: The smartest fish ever?

So I am preparing an audition video to be Dangerman this weekend, which will go up on youtube and get posted here next week. In the meantime, as promised for the weekend, I have a new weekend diversion for you: the archer fish, a.k.a. toxotes jaculatrix (hee hee). But what makes it so cool? Oh, I don’t know, how about this slow-motion video:

Did you see that?? It’s a fish that hunts insects by shooting them with water, and then eating them when they fall into the water, often catching them before they ever leave the air! What’s really amazing about this is that the fish needs to be able to “shoot fish in a barrelin reverse.

Shooting anything either from air into water or from water into air is actually really difficult, because light refracts, or bends, when it changes from traveling through one medium to another. The reason it happens is because light travels at different speeds in water than in air (see the hypnotic animation below), and the scientific law for how it happens is called Snell’s Law.

Does that mean these Archer Fish are programmed knowing how to do this in their heads? No, of course not! Young Archer Fish travel in schools, shooting randomly upwards at insects, and the ones that are the best shots, the fastest feeders, and the most successful at avoiding predators are the ones that survive to adulthood, and those are the ones that can hunt like in the video! Of course, at this fish farm in Malaysia, they teach Archer Fish to hunt in packs even to adulthood, they could be the world’s smartest fish!