Newly Discovered Eel Delivers Strongest Electricity Jolt Ever

An eel. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)

For the longest time, scientists thought that electric eels, those long and slimy ray-finned fish that for some reason have evolved to provide electrical jolts, only have one species. After all, out of all the 800 species that the order Anguilliformes has, you only need one variety that has, for lack of a better word, shocking properties.

As it turns out however, there are two more species of them, and one is capable of delivering an electric jolt that can literally break records.

Found in the Amazon rainforest, the findings were made via DNA research, which proved that despite all the illegal human activity happening there, much is still unknown about its true biological diversity. As such, it’s incredibly important to preserve what’s left of it, protecting it from man-made threats like logging, fires and deforestation.

“In spite of all human impact on the Amazon rainforest  in the last 50 years, we can still discover giant fishes like the two new species of electric eels,” C. David de Santana, lead researcher and a zoologist working with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, said. “The research indicates that an enormous amount of species are waiting to be discovered in the Amazon rainforest, many of which may harbor cures for diseases or inspire technological innovations,” he added.

In fact, the electric eel (which is actually a type of knifefish) is the inspiration behind the first-ever electric battery.

A Shocking Discovery

For many years, experts and scientists used to believe that only one species of electric eel exists and it’s the same one that can be found in the Amazon river, as well as in the banks of Guyana, Suriname and Brazil.

However, new DNA analysis has revealed that there are actually three species of electric eel: electrophorus electricus (which is the species we all know), electrophorus voltai and electrophorus varii, both of which are newly discovered.

Even more stunning is the discovery that one of the two new species, electrophorus voltai, is capable of delivering an electric jolt of 860 volts, which is much higher than the previous record of 650 volts. Because of this, it is now known as the strongest bioelectricity generator that mankind has ever discovered.

According to the researchers, the different types of electric eels might have been a result of different electric eels evolving in different ways to better suit the environments they’re in.

eel-228748_960_720 An eel. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)