Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Pirate Perch Probably Use Chemical Camouflage to Fool Prey

Mar. 28, 2013 — It’s a nocturnal aquatic predator that will eat anything that fits in its large mouth.

Dark and sleek, it hides beneath the water waiting for prey. A Texas Tech University researcher says the target will never know what hit them because they probably can’t smell the voracious pirate perch.

After careful investigations, William Resetarits Jr., a professor of biology at Texas Tech, and Christopher A. Binckley, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Arcadia University, found that animals normally attuned to predators from their smell didn’t seem to detect the pirate perch. It could be the first animal discovered that is capable of generalized chemical camouflage that works against a wide variety of prey.

The team published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal The American Naturalist.

Thankfully, at five-and-a-half inches long, only insects, invertebrates, amphibians and other small fish need worry about the danger hiding near the bottom among the roots and plantlife, Resetarits said.

“We use the term ‘camouflage,’ because it is readily understandable,” he said. “What we really are dealing with is some form of ‘chemical deception.’ The actual mechanism may be camouflage that makes an organism difficult to detect, mimicry that makes an organism difficult to correctly identify, or cloaking where the organism simply does not produce a signal detectable to the receiver.”

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