Urethral catfish??? C'mon. . .

http://www.urbanlegends.com/animals/urinophilic_candiru.htm

Basically, this link says that it’s true, but all it does is quote other sources who say it’s true. There is no CONFIRMED evidence that it’s ever happened. I don’t buy it–yet, anyway.

Any thoughts?

From the Traveling Jones guide to South America:

Ciandru are a small, thin, south american freshwater fish. Typically it lives in the gills of bigger fish, lodging itself in the gill cavity with backward facing spines.

Despite legend, there are no records of ciandru getting lodged in the urethra. However, they have been known to get lodged in the vaginas of women wading or washing naked in water, requiring a very minor procedure to extract.

Any how could you not trust sombody named “Traveling Jones”?

The travel writer Redmund O’Hanlan mentions this fish in his hilarious book “In Trouble Again”. Redmund is a serious academic and I seem to recall he travelled in the Amazon region with a metal mesh jock strap (although this might have been a joke). Anyway, when a beast urinates in the water this fish swims up the warm jet of urine and slithers into the urethera, therein spreading its spiky fins and locking itself in place. According to Redmund the pain is indescribable and the only remedy is amputation.

I found this reference on the web:

Gudger, E.W. “Bookshelf Browsing on the Alleged Penetration of the Human Urethra by an Amazonian Catfish Called Candiru with a Review of the Allied Habits of Other Members of the Family Pygidiidae-Part I” American Journal of Surgery 8:170-188, 1930.

Check your American Journal of Surgery back issues!

Just as a lark, I check the hospital library and it’s there. It’s a long article, but skimming it didn’t really give me any great insights.

Maybe I’ll check out

Herman JR “Candiru: urinophilic catfish. Its gift to urology.” Urology 1973 Mar;1(3):265-7

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago (the nation’s largest) just happens to be developing a new exhibit on the Amazon. I spoke with the Lead Developer, who of course was familiar with the tale. She says one of her scientific advisors, a researcher in the Amazon, has been trying for several years to verify this story. He has yet to find a single documented case. So, while it is certainly within the realm of possibility, it has yet to be proven conclusively.

Sounds like an Urban Legend to me. Or, more accurately, a Rainforest Legend…