1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Globe-Fish

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

GLOBE-FISH, or Sea-Hedgehog, the names by which some sea-fishes are known, which have the remarkable faculty of inflating their stomachs with air. They belong to the families Diodontidae and Tetrodontidae. Their jaws resemble the sharp beak of a parrot, the bones and teeth being coalesced into one mass with a sharp edge. In the Diodonts there is no mesial division of the jaws, whilst in the Tetrodonts such a division exists, so that they appear to have two teeth above and two below. By means of these jaws they are able to break off branches of corals, and to masticate other hard substances on which they feed. Usually they are of a short, thick, cylindrical shape, with powerful fins (fig. 1). Their body is covered with thick skin, without scales, but provided with variously formed spines, the size and extent of which vary in the different species. When they inflate their capacious stomachs with air, they assume a globular form, and the spines protrude, forming a more or less formidable defensive armour (fig. 2). A fish thus blown out turns over and floats belly upwards, driving before the wind and waves. Many of these fishes are highly poisonous when eaten, and fatal accidents have occurred from this cause. It appears that they acquire poisonous qualities from their food, which frequently consists of decomposing or poisonous animal matter, such as would impart, and often does impart, similar deleterious qualities to other fish. They are most numerous between the tropics and in the seas contiguous to them, but a few species live in large rivers, as, for instance, the Tetrodon fahaka, a fish well known to all travellers on the Nile. Nearly 100 different species are known.


Britannica Globe-fish Diodon maculatus.png

Fig. 1. — Diodon maculatus.


Britannica Globe-fish Diodon maculatus inflated.png

Fig. 2. — Diodon maculatus (inflated).