Puffer fish (Tetraodontidae) are masters of self-defense. When threatened they blow up like a balloon. Not only does this make them harder to swallow, but some puffer fish have sharp spines covering their body. If a predator does take a bite some species have powerful neurotoxins in their flesh and organs. Under carefully controlled circumstances, certain species of poisonous puffer fish can be safe to eat, but ingesting even a small amount of their neurotoxins can cause serious illness. Click HERE to read how scientists at the Smithsonian and the FDA are collaborating to improve public food safety through the development of a DNA puffer-fish voucher library.
The puffer fish at right is the speciesTakifugu xanthopterus and is a specimen from the voucher library of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. (Photo courtesy Keichii Matsuura)