Catfish Hunter

Not that one. This one. (Complete with video, even!).

You might think a catfish on land would fare as well as an elephant on roller-skates, but a new study reveals they slither around and adeptly catch insect meals.

The finding helps scientists imagine how ancient fish made their first hunting trips ashore prior to evolving into land creatures.

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Having a mobile neck is key for hunting on land--it allows the catfish to move its head up and down to stab at prey. Mobile necks are a feature usually reserved for land animals called tetrapods.

Recent discoveries of early tetrapods, such as Ichthyostega and Tiktaalik, have revealed that these beasts had mobile necks, and Van Wassenbergh said his catfish study might provide insight to how these early land animals went after food.

"It's hard to speculate about the behavior of fossils, but these animals had strong fins and a mobile neck, and I think there's a very good chance that these were also good terrestrial feeders," Van Wassenbergh said.

The (very brief) Nature article can be found here.

(Hat tip once again to my brother, who really needs to get a site of his own...)

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