A shocking find: new high-voltage electric eels revealed

HarleyK

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Call it a shock discovery: DNA research has revealed two entirely new species of electric eel in the Amazon basin, including one capable of delivering a record-breaking jolt.

The findings are evidence, researchers say, of the incredible diversity in the Amazon rainforest -- much of it still unknown to science -- and illustrate why it is so important to protect a habitat at risk from deforestation, logging and fires.

"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," said lead researcher C. David de Santana, a zoologist working with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.


The research "indicates that an enormous amount of species are waiting to be discovered in the Amazon rainforest, many of which may harbour cures for diseases or inspire technological innovations," he told AFP.
The electric eel, in fact a kind of fish rather than an eel, inspired the design of the first electric battery.
For centuries, it was believed that a single species existed throughout the region known as Greater Amazonia, encompassing parts of countries including Brazil, Suriname and Guyana.
But as part of a project to better understand electric eels and map wildlife in remote parts of South America, de Santana and his team decided to test that conventional wisdom.
At first glance, they found little visible difference between creatures collected from different parts of the Amazon basin, suggesting the fish were indeed part of a single species.
But further analysis, including of DNA from 107 samples they collected, upended centuries of assumptions and revealed three different species: the previously known Electrophorus electricus, along with Electrophorus voltai and Electrophorus varii.
And their research also uncovered another stunning result: E. voltai is capable of delivering a jolt of 860 volts -- much more than the 650 volts previously recorded from electric eels -- "making it the strongest bioelectricity generator known."
- 'Hidden' functions -
The findings, published Tuesday in the Nature Communications journal, theorise that the three species evolved from a shared ancestor millions of years ago.
The researchers found each of the three species has a clearly defined habitat, with E. electricus living in the Guiana Shield region, E. voltai in the Brazilian Shield, a highland further south, and E. varii inhabiting slow-flowing lowland Amazon basin waters.
And they suggest that the particularly strong electric shock that E. voltai can produce could be an adaptation to life in highland waters, where conductivity is less effective.
Electric eels use their shock tactics for a variety of reasons, including hunting prey, self-defence, and navigation.
They generate electricity from three specialised electric organs that can emit charges of varying strengths for different purposes.
But the discovery of the new species raises the possibility that different types of eels may have evolved different ways of generating electricity, perhaps better suited to their diverse environments.
De Santana hopes to compare the genomes of the three species, searching for clues that could offer insights useful to a variety of fields.
"Electric eel physiology inspired the design of Volta's first electric battery, provided a basis... for treating neurodegenerative diseases and recently promoted the advance of hydrogel batteries that could be used to power medical implants," he said.
The newly discovered species may reveal a "hidden variety" of functions "of interest to the broader scientific community."

 

tlindsey

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View attachment 1387746

Call it a shock discovery: DNA research has revealed two entirely new species of electric eel in the Amazon basin, including one capable of delivering a record-breaking jolt.

The findings are evidence, researchers say, of the incredible diversity in the Amazon rainforest -- much of it still unknown to science -- and illustrate why it is so important to protect a habitat at risk from deforestation, logging and fires.

"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," said lead researcher C. David de Santana, a zoologist working with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.


The research "indicates that an enormous amount of species are waiting to be discovered in the Amazon rainforest, many of which may harbour cures for diseases or inspire technological innovations," he told AFP.
The electric eel, in fact a kind of fish rather than an eel, inspired the design of the first electric battery.
For centuries, it was believed that a single species existed throughout the region known as Greater Amazonia, encompassing parts of countries including Brazil, Suriname and Guyana.
But as part of a project to better understand electric eels and map wildlife in remote parts of South America, de Santana and his team decided to test that conventional wisdom.
At first glance, they found little visible difference between creatures collected from different parts of the Amazon basin, suggesting the fish were indeed part of a single species.
But further analysis, including of DNA from 107 samples they collected, upended centuries of assumptions and revealed three different species: the previously known Electrophorus electricus, along with Electrophorus voltai and Electrophorus varii.
And their research also uncovered another stunning result: E. voltai is capable of delivering a jolt of 860 volts -- much more than the 650 volts previously recorded from electric eels -- "making it the strongest bioelectricity generator known."
- 'Hidden' functions -
The findings, published Tuesday in the Nature Communications journal, theorise that the three species evolved from a shared ancestor millions of years ago.
The researchers found each of the three species has a clearly defined habitat, with E. electricus living in the Guiana Shield region, E. voltai in the Brazilian Shield, a highland further south, and E. varii inhabiting slow-flowing lowland Amazon basin waters.
And they suggest that the particularly strong electric shock that E. voltai can produce could be an adaptation to life in highland waters, where conductivity is less effective.
Electric eels use their shock tactics for a variety of reasons, including hunting prey, self-defence, and navigation.
They generate electricity from three specialised electric organs that can emit charges of varying strengths for different purposes.
But the discovery of the new species raises the possibility that different types of eels may have evolved different ways of generating electricity, perhaps better suited to their diverse environments.
De Santana hopes to compare the genomes of the three species, searching for clues that could offer insights useful to a variety of fields.
"Electric eel physiology inspired the design of Volta's first electric battery, provided a basis... for treating neurodegenerative diseases and recently promoted the advance of hydrogel batteries that could be used to power medical implants," he said.
The newly discovered species may reveal a "hidden variety" of functions "of interest to the broader scientific community."


Wow! 850 volts thats astounding.
 

fishhead0103666

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Is it possible that the new species have been brought in for the aquarium hobby without realizing it?
 
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Ozzie73

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Ah finally.
A fish that pays its own electric bill.
That is the very first thing that ran through my mind while reading. Need to find a couple power the fish room...lol
 

fishhead0103666

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I reckon there is a way to use the power they give off for ourselves without harming the fish but is the risk of potential death worth it?
 

Ozzie73

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I reckon there is a way to use the power they give off for ourselves without harming the fish but is the risk of potential death worth it?
My statement would have been a serious one if I knew exactly what I was doing. In the current form it was more of a joke.
 

TwoHedWlf

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Ah finally.
A fish that pays its own electric bill.
From some googling it looks like you're looking at 860 volts at 1 amp. So 860 watts. But I can't find anything explicitly stating their duty cycle. But it looks like they can pulse with a separation of 2ms and up to 400 pulses per second. That's 2.5ms per pulse. So let's call it a .5ms pulse, that's 200 ms every second, a 20% duty cycle.

That gives you an average output of 172 watts. Now, it's unlikely they'd be able to maintain this for more than a few seconds. But let's assume they can. 172 watts at $.25/kwh gives you $.04 worth of electricity per hour or about $31/month. Also assuming you can capture the electricity at 100% efficiency

I'm not sure what the cost of heating, filtering and maintaining an appropriate tank and and feeding would be, but $30 gets you a fairly modest tank.

So, we'll need something else: The median running cost of a horse is $3,876 per year or $323/month

Attach it to a generator for say 12 hours a day. 1 horsepower is 745 watts that's $.19 cents per hour, $67.05/month You're still losing money.

Now, teenagers: Average running cost is $13,900 annually or $1158/month.
But, if you make them get a job at McDonalds(Or similar). Let's use the California minimum wage, $12/hour. At 40 hrs/week that's about $2080/month. Of course there's taxes, so let's take off a third and make it $1375.

There you go, finally! You're making $217 profit per month!

That will pay the running cost for a pretty large tank. And given the number of fast food restaurants around should be pretty scalable to support as many fish tanks as you like limited only by the number of teenagers you can capture.
 
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