Meet The Black Swallower: Nature's Top Competitive Eater | Summary and Q&A

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June 1, 2019
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Meet The Black Swallower: Nature's Top Competitive Eater

TL;DR

The black swallower is a deep-sea fish that can eat meals several times larger than its own size, thanks to its stretchy stomach and large mouth.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does the black swallower manage to eat meals several times larger than its own size?

The black swallower has a large mouth, very elastic stomach, and a body that can expand to accommodate its big appetite. These adaptations allow it to stretch its chest and make room for the prey it has swallowed.

Q: How does the black swallower hunt and capture its prey?

The black swallower first seizes its victim by the tail. Then, it progressively moves its jaws up the prey's body, similar to how a boa constrictor constricts its prey, until the prey is completely engulfed.

Q: Can the black swallower's ability to eat large meals ever backfire on them?

Yes, the black swallower's big appetite can sometimes get the better of them. If they eat a meal that is too large, the prey can start to rot and decompose inside their stomach, releasing gases that can inflate their stomach like a balloon and kill them.

Q: How do scientists study and observe the black swallower?

In the past, scientists relied on specimens collected from dead black swallowers, often found floating on the ocean's surface after fatally overeating. Nowadays, better deep-sea vehicles allow scientists to observe them in their natural habitat.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The black swallower is a fish found at depths of 700 to 2800 meters in the twilight and midnight zones of the ocean.

  • It can eat meals several times larger than its own size, with reports suggesting they can eat meals twelve times their mass.

  • The black swallower's ability to eat such large meals is possible due to its large mouth, elastic stomach, and flexible body.

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