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‘Shocking’ discovery reveals electric eel is strongest ever recorded, scientists say


It’s a shocking discovery.

A newly-discovered electric eel is the strongest ever recorded, with an ability to discharge 860 volts of electricity, scientists announced Tuesday.

In a study of 107 fish collected over recent years across Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname, scientists found the Electrophorus voltai can deliver charges 210 volts higher than the long-known Electrophorus electricus species of fish, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History said in a statement.

E. electricus can deliver 650 Volts of electricity.

"These fish grow to be seven to eight feet long. They’re really conspicuous,” study leader C. David de Santana, a research associate in the museum’s division of fishes said in a statement. “If you can discover a new eight-foot-long fish after 250 years of scientific exploration, can you imagine what remains to be discovered in that region?”

Full research results published in the journal Nature Communications details scientists’ discovery of the eel’s shocking abilities more than 250 years after the electric fish were discovered to live in the Amazon basin.

In addition to the E. voltai species, scientists discovered a third species of electric eel, the Electrophorus varii.

All the species collected across the Amazon looked the same, de Santana said — but upon further examination of the eel’s DNA, scientists found three different species. The species also primarily live in different geographic areas.

The long-known E. Electrius seems to live primarily in the Guiana Shield in South America, which scientists said in a statement is “an ancient geological formation where clear waters tumble over rapids and falls.”

E. voltai lives farther down on the Brazilian Shield, which is a highland region farther south. E. Varii, meanwhile, lives in “murky, slow-flowing lowland waters,” a statement said.