We continue our spooky animal series for October with the Piranha. These fish live in South America and have a fearsome reputation. In this week’s episode we discover more than just about the feeding frenzies of the Pirahna. There are so many surprising facts about these famous fish we have no doubt you will be amazed.
The ancient relatives to the Piranha date back nearly 150 million years ago to Africa. The Order of Characiformes evolved there and then diversified when South America split off from Africa. Fossil evidence points to Pirahna’s first arriving on the scene about 25 million years ago. The modern day Piranha didnt arrive until about 1.8 million years ago.
One of the fun facts in this episode is the details about the Megapiranha paranensis . This relative to the modern Piranha lived over 5 million years ago. It was about a meter long (3 feet) and weighed up to 20 lbs. (10 kg). Per body weight, it was estimated to have the strongest bite force of any bony fish on record. Per pound, it also have a bite force greater than that of T-Rex! A truly amazing fish.
The total number of species of Piranha are estimated to be 30 to 60. The most famous Red-Bellied Piranha scientific name is Pygocentrus nattereri.
A Piranha can live up to 8 years. Similar to their ancient relative the Megapiranha, today’s species all have incredible bites. This is because 2% of their entire body mass is made up of their jaw muscles. Further, with a top and lower jaw of razor sharp teeth, this just adds to their fearsome reputation. Like sharks, Piranha do replace their teeth.
Some of the other incredible facts are Piranha bark and make other noises. You can listen to a Piranha’s bark by visiting this website HERE
Piranha’s are most known for being fearsome fish that often go wild in a feeding frenzy. Most Piranha are opportunistic feeders and do not go into a frenzy with anything that enters their domain. They will eat insects, crustaceans, worms, other fish. They also will eat small mammals and birds, and will eat carcasses of dead animals. Attacks on humans are rare and deaths attributed to Piranha are less than 1 per year.
Piranha are least concern. While they have not been classified by the IUCN, it is estimated these fish are doing fine at the moment.