It's easy to think gluttony is a uniquely human trait, that animals ruled by their baser instincts are at least equipped with an innate sense of just how much is too much. But one recently discovered pike begs to differ.
The fish was found by Rene Spaargaren in the waters near his Dutch home. More accurately, he didn't discover this one fish, but rather two — inside the dead pike's mouth was a zander of almost equal size, which the pike had been futilely attempting to swallow. According to Spaargaren, the pike measured just over three feet, while the zander was about two and a half feet long. And yet, for reasons probably not even known to the now dead pike, the pike still tried to devour the zander in a single bite.
While such masticatory feats are possible in certain species like snakes that can unhinge their jaws, the pike is not among them. Indeed, according to a BBC interview with angling expert Charles Jardine, the pike is even less suited than most animals to try such a feat:
"What on Earth possessed the pike to take on prey that size? Gluttony just killed that fish. A pike is not an alligator or a python - it will not accommodate similar-sized food. Because the teeth on a pike go backward, it would have been unable to release its grip on the zander. It was a death grip for the fish."
Jardine added that there are in fact Victorian illustrations of fish attempting to swallow similarly sized prey, but until now he had assumed these drawings were simply an example of artistic license. Now it seems that the animal kingdom is once again more awesome and — at least in the case of the pike — more stupid than we ever imagined.
To see a photo of the pike in question (and yes, you want to see this photo), head over to BBC News.
Top image by katdaned on Flickr.