Letter | Published:

An Example of ‘Mimicry’ in Fishes

Nature volume 160, page 120 (26 July 1947) | Download Citation



Among the genera of Cichlid fishes peculiar to Lake Nyasa, Corematodus, comprising two species, is characterized by the dentition, which consists in each jaw of a broad file-like band of small pointed teeth. Otherwise these two species would be included in the large genus Haplochromis, of which more than a hundred, nearly all endemic, have been recorded from Nyasa. Among the Haplochromis and their related genera in Nyasa, many species have a colour pattern characteristic of the Lake and rarely met with elsewhere in Africa, namely, a dark oblique band from nape to caudal fin. Corematodus tæiatus Trewavas also has this pattern on a silver-grey ground; the largest specimen known is 19 cm. in total length. C. shiranus Blgr. has quite a different pattern, consisting of vertical, or nearly vertical, black bars extending from the back to near the ventral surface. This pattern is exactly similar to that of females and non-breeding males of the Nyasa species of Tilapia of the T. squamipinnis group; and C. shiranus reaches a length of 27 cm., which is one of the commonest lengths of the T. squamipinnis caught during the Fishery Survey of 19391.

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  1. 1.

    , , and , Report on the Fish and Fisheries of Lake Nyasa (1942); see p. 28 and p. 60.

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  1. British Museum (Natural History), London, S.W.7. May 13.



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