Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Incorrect ID? New info to be added, taxonomic revisions and any kind of changes to the data we currently hold in here please!
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Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by bekateen »

Hi All,

A recent Facebook post by somebody quoting PlanetCatfish on the etymology of Mastiglanis brought to my attention the etymology listed on the CLOG page:
PlanetCatfish wrote:Etymology: Greek, mastax, -agos = bite + Greek, glanis = a fish that can eat the bait without touching the hook; a cat fish.
Moreover, checking Myoglanis, I see virtually the same on PlanetCatfish:
Myoglanis: Greek, myos = muscle, and also, mouse + Greek, glanis = a fish that can eat the bait without touching the hook; a cat fish.

However, looking up the original description HERE of the genus (as Mastiglanis asopos), I see this:
Etymology. —From the Greek mastix (mastigo, in latinized form) meaning whip, in allusion to the filamentous elements of pectoral and dorsal fins; and glanis, the name of the Greek catfish of Aristotle, a common denomination for fishes of the order Siluriformes. The last two letters of the word mastigo were suppressed for the sake of euphony. Gender masculine.
And while the root derivations for Myoglanis do match the original Eigenmann description of the genus (HERE, and see pic below, taken from original publication), the embellishment about eating bait without touching the hook is again absent.
Eigenmann etymology of Myoglanis.png

I get that "glanis" is a reference to catfish, but where is the "eat bait without touching the hook" coming from? Is there an alternate source for the generic etymology to yield the "eat bait without touching the hook" interpretation? Or am I reading it wrong? - Is the understood ancient Greek definition of a "cat fish" equal to "a fish that can eat the bait without touching the hook?"

Cheers, Eric
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Re: Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by OregonOutdoorsChris »

Interesting, with some cursory googling I've found the claim that the Greek glanis seems to derive from glanos and relates to Hyenas... https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=glanis

Which other horizontal reading seemed to confirm (or at least repeat) and potentially attributed to Aristotle.
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Re: Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by bathyclarias »

I haven't come across anything about "a fish that can eat the bait without touching the hook" but there is apparently some debate as to which fish was originally referred to as "glanis" by the ancient greeks, with some arguing that it referred to shad (Alosa). Hard to imagine Silurus eating a bait without touching the hook, but perhaps a shad could...
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Re: Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by Silurus »

Definition of glanis according to LSJ (via Perseus):
Screenshot 2022-09-01 at 11.58.40 AM.png
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Re: Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by bekateen »

I'm intrigued by a common entry on FishBase for all of these catfishes with "glanis" in their name (HERE): It attributes the etymology to this source:
FishBase wrote:CITATION: Romero, P., 2002. An etymological dictionary of taxonomy. Madrid, unpublished.
REMARKS: This dictonary resides in a database and will eventually be published. Etymology of names was made available to FishBase in spreadsheets. See in RMS as 45335_Romero.xls which is in Spanish.
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Re: Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by Jools »

Going back to Aristotle, Historia Animalium VIII(IX).37, 621a21-36:
Of river-fish, the male of the sheat-fish is remarkably attentive
to the young. The female after parturition goes away; the male stays
and keeps on guard where the spawn is most abundant, contenting himself
with keeping off all other little fishes that might steal the spawn
or fry, and this he does for forty or fifty days, until the young
are sufficiently grown to make away from the other fishes for themselves.
The fishermen can tell where he is on guard: for, in warding off the
little fishes, he makes a rush in the water and gives utterance to
a kind of muttering noise. He is so earnest in the performance of
his parental duties that the fishermen at times, if the eggs be attached
to the roots of water-plants deep in the water, drag them into as
shallow a place as possible; the male fish will still keep by the
young, and, if it so happen, will be caught by the hook when snapping
at the little fish that come by; if, however, he be sensible by experience
of the danger of the hook, he will still keep by his charge, and with
his extremely strong teeth will bite the hook in pieces.
This last sentence is interesting - "sensible" and "bite the hook in pieces", this could clumsily match what Romero has written.

I did a cross-check with ETYFISH too (https://etyfish.org/siluriformes11/) nothing there to help with this question. I'll ask the fishbase folks.

Cheers,

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Re: Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by Jools »

bekateen wrote: Wed Aug 31, 2022 11:52 pmIs the understood ancient Greek definition of a "cat fish" equal to "a fish that can eat the bait without touching the hook?"
No. But, I think there may be a second thing here, when did sheat-fish (which is the translation into English of Glanis by Aristotelain experts) get equated to catfish (the fish experts usage)? Linneaus? Silurus giving its name to Siluriformes?

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Re: Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by Bas Pels »

As sheat-fish is an unknown word for me, I tried google translater with it,

I got meerval, which is Dutch for catfish

So, apparently sheat-fish must be a synonime for catfish in English. But that does not explain why a sheat-fish, to me that is a fish in or with a sheat, would be a catfish.
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Re: Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

Interesting thread. I like etymology.

Glanis I've no clue on.

Sheat = seems to be an obsolete form of sheet. Is that so? Also is it a reference to the flat portion of wels catfish posterior half of the body?

Sometimes I saw sheath-(cat)fish instead of sheat-(cat)fish, where I assumed sheath = a cover for the blade of a knife or sword, but this stumps me as I don't get the connection.
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Re: Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by bekateen »

I saw a few websites online that translate the word as sheat fish and cat fish. But where does the "fish that can eat the bait without touching the hook" come from?

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Re: Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by Jools »

bekateen wrote: Sat Sep 03, 2022 3:18 pmBut where does the "fish that can eat the bait without touching the hook" come from?
As I say, a translation of
will bite the hook in pieces.
?

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Re: Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by bekateen »

Jools wrote: Sat Sep 03, 2022 4:34 pmAs I say, a translation of
will bite the hook in pieces.
?

Jools
Thanks. Sorry, as I read the thread this morning, I overlooked that key part of your response. Clearly I was focused on something else (though, I know not what).

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Re: Etymology of Mastiglanis? or at least of "glanis"?

Post by Jools »

No worries, so fishbase came back to me and said they are gradually replacing the etymologies provided by Romero, P., 2002 as they are unreliable in many instances. They will use ETYfish as the go-to source.

My view is Romero got to this "easy bait off the hook" thing from a poor interpretation of Aristotle. Glanis is an old word for catfish, the oldest ones written about in the modern sense (i.e. not hieroglyphs) being what is now Silurus.

Jools
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