Researchers Discover New Piranha-Like Fish With Human Teeth

Researchers studying fish in the Amazon River recently discovered a new species — and it carries an oddly familiar marking. Scientists dubbed the species Myloplus sauron after the Eye of Sauron, the villain from the Lord of the Rings series, because of the black line on the fish’s body that looks like Sauron’s fiery pupil. M. sauron is a type of pacu, which are closely related to piranhas. Unlike their cousins, pacu have flat, human-like teeth that they use to eat the plants that primarily make up their diet. This discovery has reminded researchers just how much is still unknown about the Amazon’s wildlife.

The Fish Named After The Lord Of The Rings Villain

One of the study’s co-authors, Rupert Collins, is the senior curator of fishes at the Natural History Museum in London. In a statement from the museum, Collins noted of M. sauron, “Its pattern looks a lot like the Eye of Sauron, especially with the orange patches on its body. As soon as one of my colleagues came up with the name for this fish, we knew it was perfect for it.” M. sauron is part of the Serrasalmidae family alongside piranhas. Although these fish have a reputation for being vicious killers, M. sauron feast mainly on plants. Like other pacu, they have human-like teeth that allow them to grind up vegetation.

Piranha-like fish

M. sauron are only found in the Xingu River Basin, a Brazilian tributary of the Amazon containing more than 600 species of fish. Now, researchers are trying to determine how closely related M. sauron is to M. schomburgkii and M. aylan. It is possible that they share a common ancestor, but researchers also believe that they may have simply evolved to look the same. This newly identified fish species offers a glimpse into the Amazon’s rich biodiversity and serves as a reminder that there are still many mysteries waiting to be unraveled in this vast and diverse ecosystem.

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