Nature & Environment
World's most powerful electric eel discovered
By T.K. Randall
September 11, 2019 · 11 comments
You don't want to get too close to one of these. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Steven G. Johnson
A new species of electric eel found in the waters of the Amazon basin is capable of delivering up to 850 volts.
Native to the southern Brazilian Shield region, the new species was identified by researchers from the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Sao Paulo's Museum of Zoology.
Named Electrophorus voltai
, the eel is capable of delivering a powerful electric shock of up to 850 volts for both offensive and defensive purposes.
For comparison, a hospital defibrillator usually delivers shocks of between 200 and 1,700 volts.
"These fish grow to be seven to eight feet long," said lead researcher David de Santana. "They're really conspicuous. If you can discover a new eight-foot-long fish after 250 years of scientific exploration, can you imagine what remains to be discovered in that region?"
It is believed that the newly discovered eel evolved the ability to deliver such a high voltage because the waters in the region are less conductive than those found elsewhere.
The species was thought to have diverged from regular electric eels 3.6 million years ago.
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