The scientific tourist #102 — the Tetraodontidae

A friendly looking (but highly poisonous) little critter at the Albuquerque Aquarium:

Fish in the family Tetraodontidae have a variety of informal names — balloonfish, puffers, blowfish, bubblefish, and so on. Their scientific name (tetraodontidae = “four teeth”) comes from their dental equipment, four teeth fused into an upper plate and a lower plate, tailor made for crushing the shells of crustaceans and mollusks. But their common nicknames almost all trace to their defensive strategy — inflating themselves with water to both make themselves larger and to defensively position the spines on their skins.

The family Tetraodontidae consists of at least 121 species in 19 genera, the majority of which are highly poisonous — at least, to humans.

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