An international team of scientists has found that at least three species of electric eel slither the rivers of South America.
Unlike most other fish, electric eels don’t rely on their gills to breathe, instead periodically peeking above water to suck air into their lung-like mouths .
That should have been the case for electric eels, which, with their penchant for shallow, slow-moving waters, aren’t exactly the most cosmopolitan of fish.
The team only hooked six fish up to their oscilloscope, and de Santana suspects researchers have yet to crown the world’s most electrifying eel.
That said, you would not want to get cornered by a dozen or so pissed off electric eels at once—a real concern, considering the team believes the fish sometimes hunt in packs.)
Kate Allen, a neuroscientist and fish biologist at Johns Hopkins University who was not involved in the study, agrees, pointing out that at least 250 species of electric fish exist in South America (though Electrophorus are the only ones that weaponize their zap).
The electric eels’ species surprise, he says, is just the latest piece of evidence that many of the region’s biological riches remain unexplored.