Talk about shocking! Researchers have discovered that there are three species of electric eels living within the Amazon basin, instead of the previously thought single species.
While it doesn’t compare to the actual eel recently discovered in the ocean basin that inflates its mouth like a balloon, the Gulper Eel, this is still an interesting and significant find for researchers.
Not Actually An Eel
Despite the name, electric eels are not actually eels at all! They are actually just fish that share a lot of qualities with eels, which is how they originally got their name.
The electric eels are one of over 250 types of fish species that live in South American and can produce electricity, though they are the only ones believed to use it for hunting and self-defense.
Seeing Double… Or Triple
Before now, it was believed that there was only one type of electric eel in the Amazon. However, a study recently published in Nature Communications penned by C. David de Santana says that his team has actually discovered three distinct species of electric eels.
One, the Electrophorus voltaic, has the most powerful shock of any animal, pushing 860 volts. The previously known E. electricus species only puts out about 650 volts.
In a statement after the study was published, Dr. Santana says that electric eels can grow “to be seven to eight feet long… 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?”
Many scientists believe that there are hundreds of plant and animal species yet to be discovered and cataloged within the Amazon, which encompasses over 2.7 million square miles total.
The Actual Puffer Eel
The Gulper Eel was recently recorded by a deep-sea explorer’s research vessel, and the footage is a little uncomfortable to watch.
At the bottom of the ocean, the black eel squirms towards the camera, unhinging its jaw and inflating itself like a balloon. At one point, a researcher watching the video comments that it looks like a “Muppet”. Even the experts weren’t sure what they were looking at, at first.
Gulper eels, which are actual eels and not fish who have similar characteristics, live at least 1500 feet below the surface of the water and are rarely captured on film or video.