Monday, July 30, 2007

Animal of the Week -- July 30, 2007

So, I'm thinking, I need to do animal of the fortnight, and in the UK at the moment it's all great white sharks off Cornwall. Are the maneating leviathans really there? Possibly, probably not, the sharks seen are more likely to be basking sharks (bigger than great whites but filter feeders), porbeagle sharks (smaller than great whites, but large and fast, though nothing to worry about), or mako sharks (larger than a porbeagle, smaller than a great white, but large, fast and fierce, although not a maneater). And I am looking up information about these sharks, and then I spy the name of an animal of which I had not heard before, Alepisaurus ferox (longnose lancetfish)

Now, lancetfish are large predatory fish that eat smaller fish and small swimming crustaceans. They are considered pests by tuna fisheries where they take the bait from hooks and their watery flesh is not considered worth eating.

Quite unremarkable really, however, I was tickled by the name because it includes my former employers, The Lancet, a medical journal. Appropriately for a fish that shares its name with the august medical organ renowned for its "stand on several important medical issues - recent examples include criticism of the World Health Organization, rejecting the efficacy of homeopathy as a therapeutic option and its disapproval of Reed Elsevier's links with the arms industry [Source Wikipedia]", lancetfish have sharp teeth, hunt by ambush, and have a big mouth.

Their insipid watery flesh is, I would like to stress, less like the contents of The Lancet. And as for their purported aphrodisiac powers, well, I would be too abashed to comment.

Please forgive me this minor indulgence, it's a bit of a rubbish AOTW I know. But there you go. Also, I am going to take the next few weeks off. A small matter of a dissertation and shabby work ethic mean that I am likely to need all the minutes I can find. But AOTW will return per week and reinvigorated in September. I wish you all a lovely summer.

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