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No. 123: May-Jun 1999

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Flashy Fish

The Amazonian angel fish, popular in aquariums, employs a Star Wars-like weapon in battling invaders of its territory. The flat sides and silvery scales of this species make highly efficient mirrors. These fish have learned how to maneuver their bodies so as to reflect bright flashes of sunlight directly into the eyes of their opponents. These intense bursts of light are often enough to burst blood vessels in the eyes of the target fish -- sometimes even stunning it. Pairs of Amazonian angel fish have been observed flitting about in "light-fights" as they attempt to zap each other and avoid optical counterattacks.

(Anonymous; Creation/Ex Nihilo, 21:7, March-May 1999. Attributed to Sydney Morning Herald, October 13, 1998.)

Comments. The use of light as an offensive weapon is reminiscent of those dolphins that stun their prey with powerful pulses of sound.

Creation/Ex Nihilo is an Australian Creationist publication. It is easy to see why creationists focus on these lightfighting fish. Their weapons required the coevolution of flat sides, silvery scales, and the complex instinctive behavior needed for orienting their bodies relative to both the sun and their opponents.

From Science Frontiers #123, MAY-JUN 1999. 1999-2000 William R. Corliss