03/08/2012 06:09 pm ET

Sawfish Nose Senses, Slashes And Kills, Scientists Say (VIDEO)

A new study on the distinctive sharp snout of sawfish has shown researchers that the saw-like nose might be even more useful in hunting that previously thought. Not only can it be used to swipe and stab, it also acts as a sensor to help track down their next meal, reports PhysOrg.

The function of the sensory snout is twofold, with receptors detecting water movement as well as the electrical fields produced by their prey.

"I like to call it an antenna and a weapon, because that's what it is - it helps them to find the prey, but then also to kill it," Barbara Wueringer from the University of Queensland, who led the research team, told the BBC.

Contrary to what was previously believed, the findings also suggest these distinctive creatures hunt for prey closer to the surface of the water, according to Science Alert.

Published in the journal Current Biology, the research may be good news for the critically endangered sawfish.

The scientists believe one of the things threatening their survival is their tendency to get their noses stuck in fishing gear, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Shrinking populations of other fish on which the sawfish prey could also be contributing to the problem.