Cats and catfish have more than just whiskered faces in common. Turns out they're both inclined to stalk and catch birds (sometimes with success).
(Image: PLoS One)
In research published in the journal PLoS One, scientists from the University of Toulouse studied the "beaching behavior" of catfish (specifically the invasive Wels catfish, Silurus glanis) to capture land animals (pigeons). According to the study's abstract, 45 attacks were observed, showing a 28 percent success rate for the catfish.
The study title calls the catfish the "freshwater killer whale." This YouTube video shows the fish going "completely orca" on an unsuspecting pigeon:
The catfish observed specifically by the researchers are not native to the area. Native catfish, they noted, did not exhibit such beaching behaviors to attack birds. This might suggest that the alien catfish could be adapting its behavior toward a new type of prey since its in a new environment, which would lead "to behavioral and trophic specialization to actively cross the water-land interface."
"Introduced species can display ecological and evolutionary adaptations in their new environment, and the occurrence of new behaviors can increase invasive species success," the researchers wrote. "
They said the tendency of an invasive species to adapt to a new environment in novel ways like this could have "unexpected implications for consumer-resources dynamics and ecosystem functioning."