Welcome two new types of electric eels, including one that can discharge up to 860 volts, the strongest of all known animals, researchers say.
Electric eels emit an electrical discharge to stun the prey. Researchers from the São Paulo Research Foundation and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History came to the conclusion that the Naked Back Knifefish came in two new types, according to data from 1
"We have used tension as the main distinguishing criterion that has never been done before to identify a new species," said Naércio Menezes, researcher at the Zoological Museum of the University of São Paulo, in a statement on Tuesday. Her study appears in Nature Communications.
Using a voltmeter, the researchers recorded a discharge from an E. voltai. and discovered something shocking – it reached up to 860 volts, the highest voltage found in any animal. The previously documented electric eel voltage record was 650 volts.
The voltage fluctuation could have something to do with the eel's natural habitats. E. voltai lives in clear, oxygenated waters at high altitudes, but due to the small amount of dissolved salts, the water is less conductive, so the eel has to generate higher volt discharges to kill its prey.
E. varii lives in the lowermost part of the Amazon basin in low-oxygen waters, which contain a large amount of dissolved salts, which increase the conductivity of the water. This explains why, according to the study, the voltage of the eel is measured at 151 volts to 572 volts, which is much lower than that of E. voltai.
The newly discovered biodiversity of the eel, according to the researchers, could be helpful in other scientific aspects, including technology, and medicine, but first we need to focus on protecting eel habitats in the Amazon.
"The discovery of new species of electric eels in the Amazon suggests the great number of species still found in nature," said Carlos David de Santana, associate researcher at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. "The region is of great interest to other scientific fields, such as medicine and biotechnology, and reinforces the need to protect and preserve them."
Originally published on September 11th at 12:08 pm. PT.