Predator Vs. Prey: Hooded Merganser vs. Bluntnose Minnow

By | February 1, 2014
From Xplor: February/March 2014

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

Saw-Toothed Smackers

The hoodie’s slender bill has hundreds of sharp, toothy edges that lock onto its slippery prey until it glugs them down. Extreme Eyeballs This diving duck tweaks the shape of its eyeballs to see better underwater. Then an extra see-through eyelid, called a nictitating membrane, slides into place like instant swimming goggles.

Diving Duck Dart

A hooded merganser dives in fast with wings tucked back. Powerful legs, way back on its body, make this duck an expert underwater chowhound. It can stay submerged for two minutes on one gulp of air.

Flash Mob

Minnows travel in groups, called schools. Thousands of eyeballs are always on the lookout for trouble. Once a predator is spotted, they split in all directions in a flash of slippery silver.

Survival Sixth Sense

A row of nerve cells, called a lateral line, runs along each side of a minnow from head to tail. The line detects movement, giving minnows a split-second jump on anything that might go munch.

and the winner is…

Our plucky duck did his best, but teeming minnows schooled him. For now, our hungry duck diver is on to its next targets: tadpoles and crayfish. 4 i xplor

And More...

This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Brett Dufur
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