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Airfish! (absurdity)



I post this on the off chance that some of you are still interested in 
gasbag sauropods, etc.  I hope that this will not reactivate that 
discussion, or anything similar, however.  But this is just too bizarre 
to skip.  This "report" was published on January 30, 1996 in the _Weekly 
World News_, which is available at better supermarket checkout lanes, 
everywhere.

     "Geneva, Switzerland--Excited scientists have developed a new breed 
of fish that provides excellent, boneless filets--and doesn't need to 
live in water to survive!
     "The incredible new creature--called an airfish--can be raised 
anywhere in the world, even in desert conditions.  Genetic engineers who 
created the promising fish say it offers the most hopeful new food source 
for the world's hungry ever developed.
     "'The fish manufactures helium and stores it in its air bladder, 
which makes it possible for it to "swim" in the air just as if it were 
underwater,' explained geneticist Klaus Scheinman.  'It can move 
anywhere, so it can feed anywhere.  It nibbles on treetops, scoops 
insects from the air and even drinks rainwater on the fly.  Best of all, 
it sleeps in schools on the ground at night--so it can be caught easily 
and inexpensively.'
     "Dr. Scheinman and three colleagues from the Biogenetic Institute of 
Geneva developed the promising new fish under a grant from the World 
Health Orgnaization.  The scientists genetically modified a puffer or 
blowfish (Plectognathi), making it possible for the fish to take oxygen 
directly from the air instead of using its mouth and gills to extract it 
from the water.
     "Their object was to develop a meaty, tasty fish that could live in 
badly polluted water, but they ended up with something even better than 
that: They created a fish that could live in the air!
     "'Early last summer we noticed that a number of our specimens from 
one group of eggs had a peculiar characteristic,' Dr. Scheinman recalled. 
 'They were so bouyant that they popped above the surface of the water, 
sometimes even floating in the air for minutes at a time.
     "'Our investigations revealed that the fish had large amounts of 
helium in their air bladders.  They were manufacturing the helium--a gas 
that is lighter than air--in their own bodies, and the gas was causing 
them to float. We began to breed for this characteristic and within 
months we had developed our first purebred airfish.
     "Since that time millions of airfish eggs have been distributed to 
fish hatcheries in Europe and Africa and already clouds of baby airfish 
have hatched and floated off to feed.
     "'We've checked on several schools of the young fish and they're 
doing spectacularly well,' Dr. Scheinman said.  'We feel it is only a 
matter of a few years before these fish have grown to their normal 
14-pound adult size--and are supplying healthful, plentiful food for 
millions of people.'

End of article.  It's Friday--OK?


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Norman R. King                                       tel:  (812) 464-1794
Department of Geosciences                            fax:  (812) 464-1960
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712                      e-mail:  nking.ucs@smtp.usi.edu