mud·min·now /ˈmʌdˌmɪnoʊ/ [1865–70, Americanism] n. any of several small, carnivorous fishes of the genus Umbra, found in muddy streams and pools.
Continuing in the elusive word of the week club, this week is “mudminnow.”
(Sorry for the late posting, hectic does not even begin to describe my last month)
What can be said of the resiliency of creatures on this planet?
I remember watching the Oceans movie with horribly cheesy narration by Pierce Brosnan. The voiceover was awful, but the footage itself was breathtaking: In part for the revelation of underwater creatures that we had never seen before. And in part for the revelation of the crazy adaptive features these creatures had to allow them to survive in deep deep water.
how it tangles
Mudminnows make their home in the muck. They thrive in it, actually.
They live with low levels of oxygen and low water temperature. And when they need to escape, they escape into layers of soft sediment. They bury themselves underground.
They have adapted to do so.
how it fuses with earth
Mudminnows come from the genus Umbra. In Latin, “umbra” means shade. It is the root word for antumbra (negative shadow on the Earth’s surface as the Moon moves across the face of the Sun), penumbra (a partial shadow where the cast light is partly cut off by a body between the light source and the shadowed surface), umber (a brown earth darker in color than ocher and sienna due to manganese and iron oxides, used as a pigment by painters because it is permanent), and of course, umbrella.
In the case of the fish, umbra likely refers to where they choose to live most of their lives, underground, in the shadows.
These are fish that are hardy. They are resilient. They can make it even with very little light, very little air.
Bogs, marshes, small ponds, ditches, slow-moving streams. These places, undesirable to many fish, are where the mudminnows make their home.
They are tiny, approximately three inches long, and perhaps it is because of their size that they have adapted the way they have, sinking underground and away from predators.
They also survive times of low water levels by burrowing into the ground.
(Notes: Some definitions for “umbra” words taken from http://www.billcasselman.com/wording_room/antumbra_umbra.htm. Italicized lines from translation of Rumi by Nader Khalili)
One response to “mud·min·now”
Thanks for the lovely reflection on the lowly mudminnow: I see them every day in our ditch when I pick up the mail; occasionally our resident turtle and bull frog also make appearances as well.