Spotting a vertical column in a field of horizontal lines may seem like an easy task, but until now it's one that researchers thought only mammals could nail. Enter the Archer fish (Toxotes jaculatrix). This striped swimmer hunts prey by shooting it down with a jet of water from as far as a meter away. The skill is tied to the fish's ability to easily spot objects that are oriented differently from its background, researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In lab experiments, Archer fish squirted water at a vertical black bar in a background of horizontal bands with 40% more accuracy than when the bar was in the same orientation as its background. So if you're a tall, skinny insect standing upright on a horizontal branch, lay low!
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