15 October 2012

Moorish Idol

Mohammedans of Africa and Asia venerated this fish, probably due to its long sickle-form dorsal fin, and hence its name, Moorish idol [1].

Photo by Richard Field

Its Latin name, Zanclus cornutus, can be literally translated as ‘horned back’: Zanclus, from Greek agklino, i.e., ‘to be on one’s back’[2], and cornutus from Latin, i.e., horned[3].

The name Zanclus was applied to a person, the first king of Messina (Sicily), who gave his name to the town of Zancle[4]. Which makes Gill of Finding Nemo a venerated Sicilian crowned prince!

Ciao, Principe Gill!

[1] Robins, C.R., Bailey, R.M., Bond, C.E., Brooker, J.R., Lachner, E.A., Lea, R.N., Scott, W.B. 1991. World fishes important to North Americans. Exclusive of species from the continental waters of the United States and Canada. Am. Fish. Soc. Spec. Publ. (21):243 p.
[2] Romero, P., 2002. An etymological dictionary of taxonomy. Madrid, unpublished. See http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?ID=45335
[4] http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/3643.html.

Written by:
Maria Lourdes 'Deng' Palomares
Project Coordinator
The SeaLifeBase Project

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