At the secondary position the remaining team members and partner forces were becoming overwhelmed by enemy fire and were forced to enter their vehicles and egress out of the area at a high speed. During this manoeuvre, Sergeant La David Johnson and two Nigerien soldiers became separated from the rest of his team. Believing he had successfully reentered his vehicle, the other vehicles had left the area. La David Johnson was unable to enter his vehicle due to concentrated enemy fire and was forced to escape and evade on foot with the two Nigeriens. Both Nigerien soldiers were killed by enemy fire as La David continued sprinting through the open desert. Approximately 960 meters (1,050 yd) from the initial ambush site, La David took cover under a dense thorny tree and engaged the encroaching enemy. Soon after, a vehicle with a mounted machine gun stopped within 100 meters (110 yd) of La David Johnson's position and pinned him down. La David Johnson was killed by small arms between 12:30 and 12:45 pm. Initial reports indicated that La David Johnson may have been captured and executed, but he was found laying on his back with his arms by his sides and had wounds consistent with sporadic fire while he actively engaged the enemy.
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Empirical studies in terrestrial lizards and birds, which compare ambush to active predatory kinematics, support the idea that ambush predators may not need to produce extremely fast speeds to successfully capture prey (Huey and Pianka, 1981; Eckhardt, 1979). Desert lacertid lizards that ambush mobile coleopteran prey exhibit slower mean running velocities compared with actively foraging lizards, which consume relatively sedentary termite prey (Huey and Pianka, 1981). Simulation studies modeling the success of ambush versus active predation as a function of prey velocity and predator strike velocity further show that when predators do not move as fast as their prey, the ambush strategy yields greater capture success, because encounter rates with prey are greater compared with the active-foraging strategy (Scharf et al., 2006; Avgar et al., 2008; Scharf et al., 2008).
The combined observations that (1) the larger L. maculata moves more slowly than the tiny A. vicina, (2) both L. maculata and A. vicina fully extend long appendages, yielding slower strikes than smashing mantis shrimp species, and (3) other aquatic predators of evasive prey operate at similar speeds to L. maculata, suggest trade-offs between reach, accuracy and speed in aquatic ambush predators. Specifically, an aquatic ambush predator must overcome the challenges of rapidly traversing a potentially large distance between the hiding place and the prey while also striking accurately over short time scales. For example, the large, slow L. maculata has a long reach that permits acquisition of unsuspecting prey at great distances, and their use of direct muscle control rather than a pre-loaded elastic system may permit greater accuracy and control during the strike. Decreasing the speed and acceleration of prey capture in some fish predators has been shown to increase accuracy, because the predator has more time to adjust its alignment towards the prey before making contact (Higham, 2007). Likewise, small individuals with short appendages, such as A. vicina, have a smaller striking range and an increased chance of contacting their prey, and, therefore, can strike at greater speeds without incurring a loss of accuracy. Future studies considering the combined roles of kinematics, energetics and prey escape behavior will hopefully begin to reveal the proximate and evolutionary factors leading to these distinct prey-capture strategies. 2b1af7f3a8