This extraordinary video documents a flying fish gliding above the surface of the sea for nearly two minutes. Occasionally it uses its tail for added impetus.

It is possible to imagine a fish gliding like this for longer and longer. However it would still be gliding. Is there any physiological reason that these animals couldn't evolve to flap their 'wings' and even learn to soar?

Another consideration is why this should happen. As I understand it, the behaviour is an adaption for escape from predators. They do not fly in order to catch prey. What prey might they hunt in the air in the ocean?


  1. Is there any physiological/anatomical dead-end that would prevent flapping/soaring from evolving?

  2. Is there any adaptive reason that flapping/soaring should evolve?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ The first problem is that they have gills and cannot filter oxygen out of the air... so they wouldn't get very far before suffocating. Second would be that the mass to surface area of wings. Birds wing bones are very porous, so there is very little mass with a rather large surface area. Also they likely do not have the same type of muscle development. The flying fish generate most of there propulsion form their tails, not their side fins. Also birds tails are parallel to the ground which provides stability in flight while the fish are perpendicular, which helps with water propulsion. $\endgroup$
    – AMR
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 1:26
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think this would be a better fit on World Building. The question is extremely broad and hypothetical, and is difficult to answer given the scope of this site. $\endgroup$
    – March Ho
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe I'll ask for it to be moved. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 23:04


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