Monday, May 9, 2011


Hatchetfish are the freshwater counterparts of the sea-dwelling flying fish. However, hatchetfish go a significant step further; they can genuinely fly, instead of simply gliding above the water.

Freshwater hatchetfish are sometimes called flying characins; a direct reference to the technique they use to escape predators. When threatened, they shoot out of the water and, quite literally, disappear. This usually confuses a predator sufficiently to allow the hatchetfish to escape.

Perfect Flying Equipment
Various body modifications make this remarkable ability possible.The chest, for instance, is very deep and hatchetlike—hence the common name for the fish. It has powerful muscles that can provide the thrust needed to propel the fish clear of the water. In addition, the chest is very narrow, and it forms a keel (a deep V-shape, like the bottom of a boat) that can cut through the water with very little resistance. The pectoral (chest) fins are long and slim and have a strong, slightly curved front edge, almost like wings. The fins are high up on the body, just behind the head.

The back, from the snout to the dorsal (back) fin, is straight.This shape makes it easier for the hatchetfish to swim near the water’s surface. As well as all these characteristics, the fish has a powerful tail. The combination of all these features means that a hatchetfish can jump out of the water and then fly by flapping its strong pectoral fins. When chased, hatchetfish can fly for a short distance at a height of 4 inches above the water surface.


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