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October 2009 FAMA Editor's Note

Fishes Are Us

By Clay Jackson

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I recently wrote a blog — “Our Inner Fish Guts” — which was posted July 3, 2009, in my “Ebb and Flow” blog on FishChannel. The gist of the blog is about how anatomically similar we are to fishes, especially once you take away the scale- and skinsuits. My inspiration was the recent bestseller Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin.

Say fish and humans were different models of automobiles. Well, the oldest fish fossils go back 385 million years or earlier. So fish might be likened to Model Ts and humans might be more like those peculiar Nissan Cubes (which the automaker doesn’t even call an automobile but rather a “mobile device” — huh?). While the Model T came in basic black (“Any customer can have a car painted any colour he wants so long as it is black.” — Henry Ford) with its squared-off, chunky exterior body and today’s vehicles come in myriad colors and have plenty of sleek curvature, the basic engine design that drives both is essentially the same — the four-cylinder internal combustion engine.

A lot of our parts are “spare” fish parts from another geological era. I guess we owe fishes a lot. Some fish had lungs before humans even existed. The same is true of necks, arms, elbows, shoulders, wrists and teeth. I’m guessing you never knew you were “part fish.” But now that you do, you’ll probably want to read about your piscine pedigree in full. Again, I refer you to my blog on FishChannel.

There are also four great features on some very unusual and interesting fishes in this issue of FAMA. You could say this is our special, albeit unofficial, “all-fish issue.” Oliver Lucanus writes about wolffishes of the Amazon (they’re found outside the Amazon too). These large, fierce-looking fishes might just be the next challenge advanced freshwater aquarists are looking for. Speaking of challenges, marine fish enthusiasts will want to read “Easy on the Trigger,” in which Bob Goemans discusses the reef compatibility of various triggerfish species. There is also a free online triggerfish compatibility guide, but you have to look inside to find out more. Enjoy the fishes!

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