Don't blink—you might miss one of nature's fastest predators in action. The frogfish can swallow prey in one lightning-fast gulp.
Why a frogfish? There aren't any frogs in the ocean.
Is this some kind of evolutionary failure? A humbug loser?
They can't swim well—they lack a swim bladder.
They can't move well—fins are poor substitutes for feet.
Instead of chasing prey, they have become masters of the ambush.
Step one: conceal your position.
Frogfish have evolved to mimic less dangerous, more delicious animals: Is that a sea urchin? Nope.
A sponge? Uh-uh.
What about that coral?
It's a frogfish...and so is this, and so is this.
Step two: lure in the unsuspecting prey.
Hmmm. What's that little white thing floating above the frogfish's head? A guppy? A worm?
Whatever it is, it looks yummy to passersby.
But in a classic case of bait-and-switch, it's actually just an appendage to the frogfish's dorsal fin, used to lure the curious, the hungry, and the soon-to-be-dead.
The frogfish keeps very still, waiting for just the right moment...the shrimp vanishes, in less than a hundredth of a second.
How can a fish so slow strike so fast?
The answer lies in its method of attack, called "gape and suck."
No, we are not making this up.
Its jaw first pops and drops—the gape.
This creates a void of negative pressure.
The water—and everything near it—rushes in—the suck.
Let's see the instant replay. Gape. Suck. And spent.
But even this living tractor beam has its limits.
This frogfish has no teeth-it must swallow its prey whole, or not at all.
One big gulp can't catch this flounder.
It's able to pull itself free.
The frogfish will just have to wait for its next meal. Something it's very good at.