How Dragonfish Open Their Fearsome Mouths So Wide
Barbeled dragonfish — predatory fish with long, dark bodies that inhabit the deep sea — are unnerving to look at. Their name refers to glowing barbell-shaped lures that dangle from their oversize lower jaws and attract unsuspecting prey in the cold, dark ocean depths. Those jaws, studded with prominent, sharp teeth, can swing wide enough to gulp down large fish whole — even prey larger than the swallower.
And a new study has discovered one of the secrets to their exceptional gape — a specialized head joint that is unique to dragonfish. Read more
Experiments at Vanderbilt University have proven a 200-year-old observation that electric eels can leap out of water and shock animals to death, a claim originally made by 19th century biologist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt.
During a field trip to the Amazon basin in 1800, Humboldt said he saw electric eels leaping out of the water and delivering enough voltage to kill a horse. But with no scientific studies on the matter, and no similar observations since, many had come to believe that the famous naturalist was exaggerating.
“The first time I read von Humboldt’s tale, I thought it was completely bizarre,” said Ken Catania, the Stevenson Professor of Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee, where the recent experiments were conducted. “Why would the eels attack the horses instead of swimming away?”