Black piranha's bite most powerful among fishes
The black piranha has the most powerful bite of all carnivorous fishes, living or extinct, given their body size, according to new research.
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.
The paper reports the first bite-force measurements taken from wild specimens of the largest species of carnivorous piranha in the Amazon, the black piranha, and describes the underlying functional morphology of the jaws that allows this creature to bite with a force more than 30 times greater than its weight.
The powerful bite is achieved primarily due to the large muscle mass of the black piranha's jaw and the efficient transmission of its large contractile forces through a highly modified jaw-closing lever.
The research paper, co-authored by Guillermo Orti, professor of biology at the George Washington University, highlights the piranhas' specialized jaw morphology, which allows them to attack and bite chunks out of much larger prey.
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.
The expedition was organized and filmed by National Geographic.
The study was recently published in Scientific Reports.