Friday, April 18, 2014
P is for Piranha
Teddy Roosevelt visited the Amazon where the natives had rigged up a show for him. They threw a bull into the river where piranha ripped it to shreds. Teddy was mightily impressed and later wrote that the piranha was more vicious than the shark or barracuda. What the natives didn't tell Teddy was they'd blocked off the river beforehand and been starving the piranhas for days. Even guppies would get a little feisty in that predicament.
Nevertheless, a piranha is no guppy. There have been numerous documented human attacks - some fatal - over the past few years, including groups of fifteen to one hundred bathers. Adding up all the folks involved in piranha attacks since 2011, according to Wikipedia, I get the number 287. Damn. For shark attacks in the same period, again, using Wikipedia, I come up with 225. Number of alligator attacks? About 9.
Okay. So piranha may not have been quite the monsters TR thought, but they're still pretty impressive. And here's one final fact I find kind of creepy. What makes piranha so formidable is they hunt in schools. But they don't do that to make them more effective hunters, oh, no. They do it because they're afraid. They're protecting themselves from things that eat them. So next time you're swimming in the Amazon, remember, it's not just the piranha you have to watch for, it's all the things that eat piranha.