What Are Piranhas?

Movies love  to show Piranhas as nasty creatures of the sea. But do we know the exact anatomy of these creatures? What do these species include? And how dangerous can they really be..?

If we look for their size,as to what sizes can they go up to,these sea animal’s sizes basically depend on their exact species. But mostly,Piranhas can grow about 12cm to 35 cm long. Although,some can grow larger,growing as big as 50cms. Some experts claim that Piranhas can grow higher than that,though the necessary proofs are not known or not identified. It is believed that the Piranhas in the past,and by past I mean about 10million years ago. These were called Megapiranha which managed to reach upto 71 to 100cms! Unfortunately though,these Piranhas are extinct and are no longer found,at least not until today that is..

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  • But…what are they exactly..?

 If we look into their Morphology (morphology can be roughly be explained as a study of the structure of a particular organism. The branch of study is actually quite interesting!)

Morphology is a bit different from the size of the organism.

Anyways,many species are quite similar due to their specific dental structure. Don’t get your hopes up though,All Piranhas have grazing teeth on both their upper and lower jaws. They have  very ‘tightly packed’ teeth which are sort of triangular in shape when observed individually. This property makes them rapidly puncture any surface quite easily. Their teeth are extremely strong for  organisms like them. The larger the jaw muscles,the stronger the fish’s bite can be. How strong are their teeth,though? Well,just get this that their minor teeth are often used to cut hairs.And, Piranhas are not carnivorous,but are omnivores just like us!Set aside their deadly teeth of course..

If we look into their species and all the ecological factors,Piranhas belong to the ‘subfamily’ of Serrasalminae(have a lovely time pronouncing that:D ) The species of these organisms range from 30 to 60 different organisms.

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  • Where are these animals found..?

These hairat of these organisms lies in the fresh waters i.e rivers! Okay,so the habitat must have a fresh water basin and maybe a rainforest and at some places,swamps as well. And where are such conditions found..? 

  1. Amazon Basin
  2. The rivers of  Guianas
  3. Orinoco
  4. Paraguay
  5.  Rivers of Sāo Francisco

Nature always manages to surprise us. Some species have also been found in the south-eastern regions of Bangladesh and were also spotted in a river flowing through China.

But what if I want them in my native? Well,we can breed them artificially, can’t we?

  • How are they so famous?

It all began with the visit of the former American President,Theodore Roosevelt. The President,who visited Brazil in the ear 1913 went  hunting(it was the year 1913 so..may be hunting at that time was not really illegal). The local fishermen wanted to have the President a great spectacle to see and which is why they blocked of a part of the river trapping the Piranhas and starving them. When  the President crossed the river,the locals pushed a cow inside the river,and within seconds of time,the cow was a mere skeleton..(brutal?at those times, probably not)

Later,when the President wrote a book,he described his expedition where in, he described Piranhas to be ‘vicious creatures.’ And that’s probably where the movies and the cartoons got their inspiration from.

  • How do you survive these creatures?

Piranhas work in groups. They are said to be working together by the means of swarming. These creatures respond to noises. So…if you ever get stuck with Piranhas,make sure that you make the least disturbing noises. The lesser,the better. And Piranhas are actually timid organisms and only attack when they are hungry or if you are too near to them or their eggs. Mostly,the Red-bellied Piranhas are believed to be the ones which are the most aggressive.  They usually breed on fish meat,or the carcasses (dead bodies) of the animals. But what about living organisms? Piranhas only attack them if they are dying or if they look as a threat. So never panic if you have to confront them. 

Actually,one can’t really blame them. It’s not like we don’t eat meat. Then why are they called dreadful or dangerous? The animals which we eat might think the same. These are the laws of nature. Nobody remains without a stain in their hands. In fact,in some places,Piranhas are even said to be a delicacy! And it’s not like they have emotions like we do and just hunt for their survival. So…. let’s not think of them that lowly.

Categories: environment, Science

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