Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Black Piranha, Megapiranha Have Most Powerful Bites of Fish Living or Extinct, Researcher Finds


Dec. 20, 2012 — The black piranha and the extinct giant piranha, or megapiranha, have the most powerful bites of carnivorous fishes, living or extinct, once body size is taken into account, find researchers in a paper recently published in Scientific Reports. The research paper, "Mega-Bites: Extreme jaw forces of living and extinct piranhas," highlights the piranhas' specialized jaw morphology, which allows them to attack and bite chunks out of much larger prey.

Guillermo Ortí, the George Washington University Louis Weintraub Professor of Biology in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, is one of the authors of the paper. His research focuses on the evolution of fishes in general, but specializes on Amazonian fishes, to unravel evolutionary relationships based on DNA sequence data. In 2010, Dr. Orti along with other researchers participated in an expedition to the Xingu and Iriri rivers in Amazonia to collect the data on the fish.

Piranhas' aggressive nature, relatively small size and accessible populations make them a suitable group of predatory vertebrates in which to study the evolution of extreme biting capabilities. Even at their small body sizes, diet studies indicate that piranhas will attack and bite chunks of bony fins and flesh from prey many times larger than themselves.

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