This picture has been circulating on Facebook recently and it caught my eye because it’s so colorful and clever. But it’s definitely a hoax, albeit a cute one. But it got me thinking … could there be such a real thing?
Oh yes there is! In February of 2009, National Geographic reported the discovery of this previously unknown (to Western science) Freshwater Elephant Fish (photo below right). It lives in the fresh waters of the Congo and they believe it uses its snout to sift through the silt on the river bottom for food.
Fish biologist Melanie Stiassny said, “The fast currents and raucous rapids of the lower river create physical barriers that smaller fish cannot cross.” The result is that these natural barriers confine populations of fish that over time, evolve into their own new species or sub-species.
Sometimes these unique species are found just a few hundred meters (few hundred yards) apart from each other.
Biologist Stiassny collected DNA samples from this fish and others so she and her team can determine exactly how many new species they’ve discovered during their 2008 Congo River expedition.
This elephant fish, the real deal, is just one amazing treasure found in the second longest river in Africa, on a continent that spawned the big elephants that we know and love today.
On the other side of the world lives another fish the locals call an elephant fish, or sometimes, the Silver Trumpeter, or Whitefish. This fish lives off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand in the deep dark waters of the Pacific. People generally see them when they come into the shallow bays along the coast to lay their eggs once a year. It certainly has a funny proboscis, doesn’t it?
Isn’t life amazing? Til the next time!