Saturday, 7 June 2014

Catfish 'See' Their Next Meal with Acid-Sensing Whiskers

By Charles Q. Choi, Live Science Contributor | June 05, 2014 02:32pm ET

Japanese sea catfish (Plotosus japonicas) are
 nocturnal 5.9-inch-long (15 centimeters) fish
 found in southern Japan that cruise the 
seafloor at night to snag worms and crustaceans.
Credit: Image courtesy of the Kagoshima Aquarium
Catfish have evolved sensors on their whiskers that can help the animals hunt in the dark by detecting slight changes in water acidity, the first time such sensors have been seen in fish, researchers say.

Scientists investigated the Japanese sea catfish (Plotosus japonicas), a nocturnal, 5.9-inch-long (15 centimeters) fish very common in southern Japan that cruises the seafloor at night capturing worms and crustaceans. People in the area don't eat this catfish — it has venomous spines on its fins.

"No one wants to handle these fish," said lead study author John Caprio, a neuroscientist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. 

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