Researchers at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History have identified two new species of electric eel in the Amazon rainforest, tripling the known number of electric eel species.
One of the new species -- Electrophorus voltai -- can discharge up to 860 volts of electricity, significantly more than the 650 volts generated by the known electric eel species, Electrophorus electricus, the study published in journal Nature Communications found These electric eels -- which are actually a type of fish with an eel-like appearance -- can grow to up to eight feet (2.4 meters) and highlight how much is yet to be discovered in the Amazon rainforest, study leader David de Santana, a research associate at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, said in a press release.
For 250 years, scientists have known that electric eels live in the Amazon basin.
Scientists long thought the electric eels found in swamps, streams, creeks and rivers across South America were all the same species.
The new study shows that the eels actually belong to three different species.
There are about 250 species of fish that are able to generate electricity, but electric eels are the only ones that use electricity to hunt and for self-defense.
The newly discovered electric eel species could have evolved unique systems to produce electricity -- perhaps a different system than the first discovered species -- which could lead to more discoveries, de Santana said.