Predator vs. Prey: Alligator Gar vs. Wood Duck

By | October 1, 2013
From Xplor: October/November 2013

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight. Here's what separates nature's winners from its losers.

Sneak Attack

An alligator gar’s favorite foodcatching trick is to float on the surface, pretending to be a log. When prey swims close, the gar lunges with lightning speed.

Armed to the Teeth

An alligator gar’s top jaw is spiked with two rows of daggersharp teeth. When this toothy trap snaps shut, there’s little hope of escape for whatever is inside.

Turbo Takeoff

Wood ducks have large wings in relation to their body size. This allows a wood duck to rocket straight up off the water at the drop of a feather.

Air Breather

Gar use gills to breathe, but they also gulp air at the surface. This helps gar live — and hunt — in water that’s too low in oxygen for other fish.

Wide-Angle Eyesight

Not only is a wood duck’s eyesight much sharper than a human’s, but the duck can also see above, below, forward, and backward at the same time.

and the winner is…

Adult wood ducks are usually too sharp-sighted and quick to get gobbled by gar. But occasionally, a gar manages to sneak into striking range. When that happens, the duck’s goose is cooked.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White