Top: Bichir and trunkfish [top], Electric Catfish [bottom]
Center: Electric “eel” - Electrophorus electricus
Bottom: Indo-Pacific Moray Eel - Muraena nudivomer (now Gymnothorax nudivomer

A while ago I saw this Bird and Moon illustration of animals with misleading names, but I kept seeing people asking, “Ok, if they’re not THAT, then what ARE they?” For some reason, I completely forgot that I wanted to cover those questions, but hey, better late than never!

The electric eel isn’t an eel - it’s a knifefish. Knifefish (Gymnotiformes) are actually more closely related to electric catfish (Siluriformes) than they are to true eels (order Anguilliformes), but developed their electroconductive organs through convergent evolution - the first signs of the organ evolution in both the electric eel and the electric catfish appeared after they shared a common ancestor.

In addition to electric eels and electric catfish, electric rays (order Torpediniformes) are the only other “strongly electric” fishes - that is, fish that produce electric shocks over one volt, and use their electrogenerative organs to either stun or kill prey and/or attackers. There are many fish that can produce a small current (“weakly electric”), but it is used for electrolocation and electrocommunication, instead.

Fishes of Zanzibar: Acanthopterygii. J. Van Voorst, 1866.
The Standard Natural History. John Sterling Kingsley, 1884.
Wild life of the world. Richard Lydekker, 1915.

355 notes


  1. dazero0 reblogged this from biomedicalephemera
  2. thefoxydingo reblogged this from biomedicalephemera
  3. cemeterycigarettes reblogged this from biomedicalephemera
  4. stardustcrusade reblogged this from biomedicalephemera
  5. sothesearethings reblogged this from biomedicalephemera
  6. schwarz5754 reblogged this from biomedicalephemera
  7. kelp-for-brains reblogged this from punitivedamages
  8. punitivedamages reblogged this from biomedicalephemera
  9. goldynbear reblogged this from biomedicalephemera
  10. mitchpeter reblogged this from koukie11
  11. pleistocene-epoch reblogged this from scientificillustration
  12. catchingpokemon reblogged this from villejavat
  13. villejavat reblogged this from bluewaterblackheart
  14. h1ghtechl0wlife reblogged this from scientificillustration
  15. iarrthoireolais reblogged this from scientificillustration
  16. vicdeleon reblogged this from biomedicalephemera
  17. infragon reblogged this from scientificillustration
  18. guaranteedchill reblogged this from from-the-nave-to-the-chops
  19. isamizdat reblogged this from scientificillustration
  20. from-the-nave-to-the-chops reblogged this from scientificillustration