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WHAT IS THE PIRANHA?


There are in fact at least a dozen different species, belonging to the characin group of fishes. Most eat fallen fruit not as thrilling as stripping a carcass to the bone, but there is no doubt they play an important part in the local ecology. Most people think that if they visit the Amazon river in Brazil and fall off a boat they will be eaten by schools of piranha fish and this is a constant danger there. Far from it, piranhas tend to hunt for food alone and not in schools and will not bite people unless they are given the opportunity and they are very hungry.



The most notorious type of piranha is the red piranha because when we think of colorful fish , we don't usually think about ones with razor sharp teeth. Their mouth is designed to chomp off pieces of flesh in a single bite to be swallowed whole. They have a single row of triangular teeth that fit together resembling an animal trap. The teeth are razor sharp and before the invention of scissors Indian tribes would use the jaws of dead piranha to cut with.














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The teeth interlock with the other row which enhances the strong grip a piranha has on their prey. When piranhas lose teeth they lose a row rather than a single tooth so the teeth will maintain the interlocking ability. However they will only lose one side at a time so they can still feed. Their sense of smell is comprable to sharks and they need it to find food in the murky waters of the Amazon River. Their hearing also allows them to sense when an animal is injured so they can get to it and eat it. It is also believed that piranha eyes are better than that of humans and that they can see a wider range of color.

 

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