Nature’s Knives: Stone Fish

Stone Fish

If this post takes off then “Nature’s Knives” might be a reoccurring segment on TTAK. I have been wanting to write several articles on the subject as nature provides some awesome examples of problem solving “blades” for lack of a better term. These examples can and have been reversed engineered to make some spectacular tools and devices. First up is the Stone Fish.

Stone Fish reside in the Indo-Pacific region of the world. They are often found in the shallows and tide pools of beaches. Like many other tide pool fish, they can go hours without breathing outside water as they can hold water in their gills. This makes them very dangerous to humans as their “blades” are on top of their bodies on their backs. So it looks like a stone and you just might step on it.

. . . And if you do bad things happen. There are an array of “spines” or “stingers” that are essentially hollow needles. These sit on top of their own individual venom sac. Gravity forces a foot, hoof, paw, or whatever onto the spines. They press down and shoot the venom into the victim. Nature’s landmines.

Venom is one of nature’s “force multipliers”. Stone fish have it in spades. The kind depends on the specie but most are “cocktails” of neuro, cardio, and hemo toxins. What you see in the video could be lethal if left untreated.

The good news is the proteins that make up the toxin cocktails break down in the presence of heat. Mere hot water can help. But antivenom is frequently used and is readily available.

The bad news is stone fish look like rocks! And they are really common! You could do a whole series just on venomous creatures in Australia; many live on the water’s edge.

So next time you are at a beach in the Indian or Pacific Ocean . . . Yeah, you just might want to rethink why you are on a beach in that part of the world.


  1. Sam L. says:

    I’ve heard of these, but don’t recall seeing a picture of them. Luckily, I’m nowhere near them.

  2. cmeat says:

    nature’s knives indeed. hopefully you’ll uncover a trove of animal shivs.
    i seem to remember the upside down catfish (synodontis nigriventris), congolese basin, as having little switchblades in their ocular sockets that could be deployed defensively.
    i certainly give the pectoral and dorsal fins on bullhead plenty of respect.

  3. Brad Griffin says:

    I’m an Aussie, so I’m familiar with Stone fish. I’ve seen them in on shore reefs. I saw this video a while back and it engendered, even more, respect for these fish than I previously had.

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Nature’s Knives: Stone Fish

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