The unexpected reversal of prey and predator was observed in a science lab.
“I thought, ‘Okay, there’s a bunch of sea urchins in there, these guys are predators of urchins, nothing’s gonna happen,’” recalls Clements, of Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Moncton. The urchins, he says, hadn’t eaten anything in two weeks.
The next day, when Clements came into the lab, he couldn’t find the sun star. There was a pile of urchins on the side of the tank, with something red barely visible underneath. Clements pried the urchins off, revealing the victim.
“The sea star was absolutely decimated,” he says. “The urchins had just ripped it apart.”
It’s the next section that really puzzles me. On the one had it says intentional coordinated attack isn’t possible, and then right after that it suggests a mechanism for intentional coordinated attack.
…urchin attacks can’t be intentional since the animals don’t have a brain or central nervous system, she says. “Urchins doing a coordinated predatory attack is not biologically feasible.”
The synchronized attacks may be based on chemical consequences of the ongoing feeding releasing smells into the water, Clements says. Once the first urchin starts chewing on the sun star, the other urchins may start recognizing the sun star as food…
Eating seems like intent. Signaling seems like coordination.
Definitely food for thought (pun intended, of course) when thinking about drone swarms.