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Porcupinefish
Porcupinefish (Diodon nicthemerus)
Photo by Mikkel Elbech
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Tetraodontiformes
Family: Diodontidae
Genera

See text for genera and species.

Porcupinefish are fish of the family Diodontidae, (order Tetraodontiformes), also commonly called blowfish (and, sometimes, "balloonfish" and "globefish").

They are sometimes confused with pufferfish. Porcupinefish are closely related to pufferfishes but porcupinefish have heavier spines (hence the name porcupine) on their body. Also unlike the pufferfishes, they have only a single plate of fused teeth in each of the upper and lower jaws.[1]

Porcupinefish are medium to large sized fish, and are found in shallow temperate and tropical seas worldwide. A few species are found much further out from shore, where they can occur in large shoals of thousands of individuals. They are generally slow.[1]

Porcupinefish have the ability to inflate their body by swallowing water (or air) and become round like a ball. This increase in size (almost double vertically) reduces the range of potential predators to those with much bigger mouths. A second defense mechanism is provided by the sharp spines, which radiate outwards when the fish is inflated. Some species are poisonous, having a tetrodotoxin in their internal organs, such as the ovaries and liver. This neurotoxin is at least 1200 times more potent than cyanide, but some scientists believe it is produced by several types of bacteria that are somehow obtained from the fish's diet as fish bred in captivity are not poisonous[2], while others are skeptical of this theory. As a result porcupinefish have few predators, although adults are sometimes preyed upon by sharks and orcas. Juveniles are also preyed on by tuna and dolphins.[1]

The UNIX-derived computer operating system OpenBSD uses a porcupine fish as its mascot, named Puffy.

Species

  • Genus Allomycterus
  • Genus Chilomycterus (Burrfishes, Spiny Boxfishes)
    • Pacific burrfish, Chilomycterus affinis Gu:nther, 1870
    • Bridled burrfish, Chilomycterus antennatus (Cuvier, 1816)
    • Web burrfish, Chilomycterus antillarum Jordan & Rutter, 1897
    • Spotted burrfish, Chilomycterus atringa (Linnaeus, 1758)
    • Chilomycterus geometricus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
    • Spotfin burrfish, Chilomycterus reticulatus (Linnaeus, 1758)
    • Striped burrfish, Chilomycterus schoepfii (Walbaum, 1792)
    • Guinean burrfish, Chilomycterus spinosus mauretanicus (Le Danois, 1954)
    • Chilomycterus spinosus spinosus (Linnaeus, 1758)
      Chilomycterus geometricus
  • Genus Cyclichthys (Swelltoads)
  • Genus Dicotylichthys
    • Three-barred porcupinefish, Dicotylichthys punctulatus Kaup, 1855
  • Genus Diodon (Porcupinefishes)
  • Genus Lophodiodon
    • Four-bar porcupinefish, Lophodiodon calori (Bianconi, 1854)
  • Genus Tragulichthys
    • Longspine burrfish, Tragulichthys jaculiferus (Cuvier, 1818)

See also


References

  1. ^ a b c Keiichi, Matsura & Tyler, James C. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N.. ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 231. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.  
  2. ^ Piper, Ross (2007), Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals, Greenwood Press.
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