Jolting discovery: Powerful new electric eel found

This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows an Electrophorus voltai, one of the two newly discovered electric eel species, in Brazil’s Xingu River. While 250 species of fish in South America generate electricity, only electric eels use it to stun prey and for self-protection. (Leandro Sousa via AP)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Researchers report two newly discovered species of electric eels in South America, one of which can deliver a bigger jolt than any other known animal.

The researchers collected 107 eels in four countries and found differences in their DNA, along with minor physical variations.

One species had the ability to generate 860 volts of electricity, more than the 650 volts discharged by the only previously identified type of electric eel.

While 250 species of fish in South America generate electricity, only electric eels use it to stun prey and for self-protection.

Study leader C. David de Santana of Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History says the discovery illustrates the importance of protecting and studying the Amazon rainforest area.

The study was published this week in the journal Nature Communications.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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