Archerfish have a phenomenal ability. They can spit water with pinpoint accuracy to knock prey down from plants that dangle above the water. The fish don't have to leave their watery home to get a terrestrial meal.
The fish judge just how much water is needed to create enough impact to knock the cricket or other prey off the leaf. They do so with such variety and precision that some researchers think it constitutes tool use.
But there's something even more amazing about these little fish that reveals just how smart they are: They can recognize individual human faces — and that's a big deal because for a long time, we thought only humans could do that.
KQED reports that Caitlin Newport, a zoologist at the University of Oxford, "trained some lab fish to spit at an image of one human face with food rewards. Then, on a monitor suspended over the fish tank, she showed them a series of other faces, in pairs, adding in the familiar one ... When the trained fish saw that familiar face, they would spit, to a high degree of accuracy. In a sense, the fish 'recognized' the face."
Check out the details of the amazing ability in this short video:
The next part of the experiment will test if the fish recognizes only part of a familiar human's face — or rather, would the fish be able to infer what's missing, put the whole face together in its mind, and recognize it as that familiar face it's been spitting at.
There's so much more for scientists to discover about what at first seems like a small-minded fish but in actuality is one smart shooter.