Beautiful though they may be, let’s get one thing straight — the world’s oceans and rivers are basically giant, terrifying bottomless pits full of things that wants to eat you, like great white sharks and giant squid and sea lice as big as your fist. Considering how many things that live in the ocean should inspire fear in your heart, but if it’s being bitten by something that scares you the most — and that is, in our estimation, utterly understandable — then you should be most terrified of piranhas, which have a stronger bite, pound for pound, than any other fish in history. On the bright side, though, you can be glad that the megapiranha, which is not just a C-minus movie monster but a variety of piranha that is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, is now extinct and can no longer bite you. Thank God for small mercies, right?
While piranhas have been known to punch above their weight with an oversized bite that can take chunks out of much larger prey, this is the first study to actually demonstrate the power found in the jaws of the menacing fish. That power level, it turns out, would best be described as ridiculous, the fish equivalent of a reading of over 9000. According to a study published this week in the journal Science Reports, black piranhas can exert a force up to 30 times greater than their weight in when biting prey, thanks to a specialized lever that closes their jaw and a huge mass of muscle tissue used for nothing but biting — though to be fair, if you’re a piranha, biting is pretty much all you really do.
The study also reconstructed and modelled the bite of megapiranha from fossil records, showing that the fish would have had a bite power on par with that proportionally, but being much bigger, the bite would have been far more dangerous. Megapiranha are extinct, though, a fact which we find very, very comforting at the moment. Because it turns out that if they were still around, megapiranha would be just as terrifying as awful movies make them out to be
- Puffer fish are nicer and more design oriented than piranhas
- A serious bite is still not as unnerving as the phrase “genital barbs”
- Plainly, Gollum is not eating piranhas, which would happily take a bite out of him