RE: NANFA-- Fish Folklore
Wed, 7 Nov 2001 22:56:05 EST

Warning- off topic
This myth does not apply to NA natives, so it probably won't help you. I
think it is interesting though.
A year or two ago, Aquarium Fish Magazine ran an article on fish myths.
If anyone cares enough, I will find the issue. One myth stuck with me, that
hatchet fish (South American, Gasteropelecidae) can fly. Some people believe
that they can literally fly out of their tank and around the room.
Flipping through a book I bought in a batch at the fish club auction last
week (Gunther Zupanc's "Fish and Their Behavior", Tetra Press, copyright
1988), I found this caption to a photo of Carnegiella strigata: "The
enormous enlargement of the thoracic cage of the marbled hatchet fish
accommodates the massive muscles of the pectoral fins which enable it to
ACTIVELY fly". Emphasis mine.
The accompanying text mentions that gliding fish like Exocoetus
vollitans, the familiar salt water flying fish has pectoral fin muscles that
account for less than three percent of their mass, while these make up more
than a quarter of the weight of the hatchet fish. These highly developed fin
musculatures allow these"true fliers" to move the fins "up and down at a
rapid rate to become airborne"
There is another paragraph of speculation as to how this ability evolved.
Fascinating to me to see a book that appears to be reliable and well
researched spread this kind of misinformation.

Pierre Gagne
Kensington, MD

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