Why These Dolphins Behead Their Prey
The grisly behavior is exceptionally rare—and may be a cultural phenomenon.
The seventh season of Game of Thrones may have just premiered, but for catfish of the Gulf of Mexico, every day brings with it the grim possibility of ending up like Ned Stark: unexpectedly beheaded.
In a first, marine biologists have discovered that some of the Gulf’s common bottlenose dolphins have a knack for decapitating native marine catfish.
Though dolphins usually eat their prey whole, they sometimes get fancy in their meal preparation. Rough-toothed dolphins in the eastern Pacific “filet” mahi-mahi. Dolphins employ division of labor to corral and eat mullet. One 2009 study shows that Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins follow “recipes” for preparing cuttlefish meals.
But the Gulf dolphins’ behavior—which apparently allows them to avoid the catfish’s skull