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Do Fish Have Nostrils?

In response to:

The Autist Artist from the April 25, 1985 issue

To the Editors:

In “The Autist Artist” [NYR, April 25], Oliver Sacks, in his critique of José’s second trout drawing asks, “What fish has nostrils?” (p. 20). Simply answered, all fish have nostrils.

M.S. Trupp

New York City

Oliver Sacks replies:

If by “nostrils” one understands apertures opening to respiratory organs, and not mere olfactory pits or depressions, then no fish have nostrils, except for the rare Dipnoans—lungfish—which breathe air; the Coelacanths—of which Latimeria is the sole living example; and possibly one or two others, equally rare.

But it would be more graceful to admit that I had a momentary aberration, possibly associated with a confused memory of Thurber’s reader’s fish with hysterical ears.

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