In a painful experiment, a U.S. researcher found out just how strong the jolts delivered by the fish are.
We have always been captivated by the awesome capability of the eel fish to shock its prey but recent studies have cleared out that the eel has evolved over time to deliver much intense and painful shock to anyone threatening its habitat.
Now that's dedication to science: researcher Kenneth Catania tested how strong the jolts are that electic eels use to shock their victims - on himself.
"We've known these animals give off a huge amount of electricity, and everybody thought that was really unbelievable, "said biologist Kenneth Catania of Vanderbilt University, who experienced the shock". For this, he developed an apparatus that can measure the strength of the electric current through a human arm that gets touched by an electric eel.
He then recorded the current produced by the eel and published his findings in the journal Current Biology.
It took ten tries until he was able to collect data sufficient for the study, he eventually discovered that the eel was delivering a jolt of 40 to 50 milliamperes through his arm. These shocks mimic a Taser gun and are delivered by the eel by leaping into the air and directly feeding the current to the predator?s body. To make sure no harm is done while this experiment he chose a relatively small eel with less powerful shocks.
"It's impressive that a little eel could deliver that much electricity", said Catania. "We don't know the main drive of the behavior, but they need to deter predators, and I can tell you it's really good at that. I can't imagine an animal that had received this (jolt) sticking around".
Despite their name, electric eels are not in fact eels, but rather belong to the South American knifefish.
A similar experiment was once conducted by Prussian geographer, naturalist, explorer - Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt a couple of hundred years ago.
The electric eel is not the only high-voltage animal. Their bills are covered in nearly 40,000 electricity sensors. A full-grown eel can deliver an electric charge of up to 600 volts. These freshwater animals can stun prey, as large as a horse, using electric organs containing 6,000 electrolyte cells which store power like batteries.
The Oriental hornet is a solar-powered insect: its brown stripes trap the sunlight and its yellow stripes convert it into electricity.