Nature’s Misfits


Many species, like Tandanus tandanus (pictured above) can be cast in a negative light because they aren’t aesthetically pleasing to the human eye or because they have barbels, stingers, venom, or look creepy-crawly. Many of Nature’s ‘misfits’ hideout, often in dark or low light areas, or are well camouflaged by their surroundings. These species use their barbels, stingers, fangs or venom to find, stun or kill their prey. Catfishes like Tandanus tandanus use their barbels as sensory units to find their prey in low-light conditions in the bottom of waterways; Tandanus tandanus also tends to hunt at night so having these barbels is really important for them to find their food. This species, like other catfishes, also has sharp serrated dorsal- and pectoral-fin spines that can cut predators or humans if they come in contact with the spines. What other species do you think might be one of nature’s misfits? Often these species are misunderstood and improving our knowledge about them can help us to better appreciate them and their unique features.

Haiku and photo: Steph Januchowski-Hartley