The electric eel was first described by Linnaeus in 1766 and since then, has been reclassified several times. Join the club! Oh my gosh what a great WONDER and I am so impressed with the new facts that I learned. Collecting these animals from the wild, as de Santana did, is not easy. I bet that tomorrow's wonder will be about clocks! The critters are native to South American rivers, but they don’t spend all their time underwater. The name for fish-eating species is picivorous. Deaf woman responds to rude flight attendant. Keep up the GREAT work! For example, do you know of a special ability that a skunk might use? Electric catfish live in Africa, mainly around the Nile River. This was a cool article. 1. Electric eels can create both low and high voltage charges with their electrocytes. These electric discharges are … I can't stop reading these wonders. Although not endangered, electric eels only live in one small region of the world and are hard to keep in captivity, so most people have never seen one. Georgesplane June 1, 2011 . I can't wait to see if my prediction is correct :), I think that it is so cool that electric eels can breathe air! We are always interested in learning more about the world around us (like about electric eels, for instance). Can’t wait for tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day? We sent you SMS, for complete subscription please reply. Hi wonderopolis!!! It is only found in muddy, shallow waters surrounding the Amazon and Orinoco rivers in South America. A few species, including electric eels, electric rays, and electric catfish, can emit enough juice to stun other fish, yet they never seem to shock themselves. An electric eel curls its body to deliver a powerful shock to a prey item. Ironically, electric eels are not eels at all but they are actually knifefishes. Electric rays can also generate electricity, while sharks and platypuses detect electricity but don't produce shocks. You see, Miguel is an electric eel who resides at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. Its thick, scaleless skin is generally dark gray to brown, and its underside is a yellow-orange color. An adult may weigh 20 kilograms (44 pounds), with males being much smaller than females. Electric Eels Have Organs for Producing Electricity, Victoria Stone & Mark Deeble / Getty Images, A Biography of Michael Faraday, Inventor of the Electric Motor, Venomous Sea Snake Facts (Hydrophiinae and Laticaudinae), Find the Anode and Cathode of a Galvanic Cell, Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College. The electric eel can generate deadly shocks up to 600 volts strong. In other words, only 20 percent of an eel is devoted to its vital organs. Unfortunately, electric eels are not even eels; they are actually knifefish. Thank you for leaving us this great comment! The Egyptian name for the electric catfish translates as "angry catfish." Bottom line: You can’t collect electric eels without suffering shocks, which de Santana compares to getting hit with a Taser. Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis! In other words, what is the eel’s effective range? You are a GREAT Wonder Friend for sharing Wonderopolis with Anna B! :-), Thanks for letting us know you liked this Wonder, Jaden! At present, the electric eel is the only species in its genus. Put yourself in the shoes of an electric eel for a day. Instead they are a kind of fish called "knife-fish.” They are closely related to carp and catfish. Electric eels (a specific kind of knifefish) really only hang out in bodies of freshwater in South America. The shocks are not generally capable of killing a healthy human. But did you know they aren't actually eels? Smaller fish deliver less current, which produces a tingle rather than a shock. I mean electric eels just in my experience do not jump out of the water. I hope that you don't mind if I ask a ton of questions! It's okay to be confused; scientists have been for many years. If you were pushing more than one amp through the water (the amount of current an electric eel produces), you could probably kill an electric eel. In an electric eel (Electrophorus electricus), thousands of modified muscle cells in the thick tail are lined up like batteries in a flashlight. Be sure to check out the following activities with a friend or family member: We hope this Wonder helped you figure that out, leigh! Do other marine creatures like you? People mistake them for eels … The facts are flabbergasting! Electric eels are slow, lethargic swimmers and prefer muddy, stagnant, low oxygen water. Have you ever considered if an electric eel can shock itself? Electric eels can vary the intensity of their shocks, using lower voltages for hunting and higher voltages for self-defense. Their coloration is dark gray-brown on the back and yellow or orange on the belly. We're EXCITED you're WONDERing with us! Electrophorus voltai (pictured), one of the two newly discovered electric eel species, produces an 860 volt shock, the highest charge of any known animal in … Most of the time, electric eels produce lower voltage shocks just strong enough to stun prey or deter a threatening animal. Have a WONDERful day! You’ve matched all of the definitions correctly. We love your enthusiasm for WONDERing! The source of their power is a battery-like array of cells known as electrocytes, which make up around 80 per cent of the eel’s metre-long body. However, if an eel is injured, the wound can make the eel susceptible to electricity. Human deaths from electrocution are rare, unless the victim has a heart condition. We're glad you enjoyed this WONDER and hope you learned lots. I thought the Japan Christmas tree was phenomenal! Want to add a little wonder to your website? Despite their name, electric eels arent actually eels (Anguilliformes). WOW! Be the first to know! Electric eels are more closely related to catfish than true eels. I found today's wonder extremely interesting. We're THRILLED you liked this Wonder and enjoy visiting Wonderopolis. We're THRILLED you're WONDERing with us! Tell the others three reasons why their animals aren't as scary. A standard car battery generates 12 volts, so an electric eel has 50 times the shocking power of a car batt… That's why we WONDER so much! We hope you liked this Wonder! We are interested in hearing what you find out! :), We are glad you liked this WONDER, allen brown! Electric eels have electrogenic cells that they use to stun prey, defend against predators and even communicate with other electric eels. I love it!!! The adult electric eel can produce a five hundred volt shock, which is enough to stun a horse. Dear Wonderopolis, It looked like a nuzzle, but it packed the wallop of an electric fence. Interested in sharing Wonderopolis® every day? Electric eels – actually a type of knifefish, not true eels – are notorious for being able to produce a hefty electric shock of up to around 600V. That amazed me I never knew they were really electric, I always thought they were just called an electric eel. Juvenile fish eat small invertebrates, including crabs and shrimp. They are interesting to learn about. Though each cell generates only about 0.15 volts, in a large electric eel, six thousand cells may be stacked to make one giant battery that can generate as much as 600 volts for a short pulse. Electric eels are usually only safe to be around when they're in a zoo or an aquarium. I thought that video was very cool! Large Electric Eels can release enough electricity in one jolt to paralyze/kill fish and small rodents or give a fully grown human quite a shock (so much that it contracts muscles closest to the entry point). We love when we're learning and having FUN at the same time! Electric eels have to be very careful in the way they bend their bodies when the charge up! Are you misunderstood? Hello Wonderopolis! When the channels are open, sodium ions flow through, reversing the polarity of the cells and producing an electric current in much the same way a battery works. That's an interesting question. SCIENCE — Life Science. Wow, that was so cool! In fact, electric eels are not actually eels at all. Welcome back, Wallace! :), Hey, Westley! The electric eel has three pairs of abdominal organs that produce electricity: the main organ, the Hunter's organ, and the Sach's organ. An electric eel can kill itself with its own electricity! So, where do these eels live in North America? Whether the shock of an electric eel is fatal also may depend on the size of the eel, which, by the way, isn't actually an eel at all. :), Hi, Yazminah! Why or why not? Do you know the story of a mad doctor who created a monster from assembling dead corpses? Thanks so much for visiting Wonderopolis and sharing this awesome comment! An electric eel has three organs in its abdomen that produce electricity. Could an electric eel's shock kill a human? And their fame is no surprise! Also that they are related to catfish. Read: The stunning case of leaping electric eels. Electric eels can weigh up to 45 pounds. Tell everybody about Wonderopolis and its wonders. Electric eels are some of the most feared creatures because of their shock, but how does their electric shock work and how much damage does it do? Like the stacked plates of a battery, the stacked electric cells can generate an electrical shock of 500 volts and 1 ampere. Bye. The electric eel is the closest thing nature’s got to a living, breathing battery. Most people don't know much about electric eels, except that they produce electricity. Electric eels will attack humans when they feel threatened, and their shock of 600 volts is powerful enough to kill a horse. Have fun and be as creative as you can be. It is pretty cool to think that one eel can supply enough electricity to light it up like that! Do they only live in warm climates? They do! Electric eels use their shocking abilities for hunting and self-defense. Can they think of any other examples? Share what you find with a friend or family member. They … Thanks for sharing your comment with us-- what a cool connection! There is one fact you should know, electric eel is not really “eel”, it is closely related to catfish, so the name is quite misleading. We think it's GREAT to share in the learning! Electric 'eels'are not really eels, they are related to some common aquarium fish, knife eels and ghost fish, that have a vertical body. Electric eels can produce shocks of up to 800 volts. Here are a few simple experiments you can try with the help of an adult friend or family member: +. :), Hello, Wallace! Patches on the eel's body contain high frequency-sensitive receptors, which give the animal the ability to sense electromagnetic fields. :), Great question, Sam! There is also a brutal video out there of a black caiman biting onto an electric eel and being shocked to death. The organ contains muscle-like cells that can transmit a signal at 10 V of about 25 Hz frequency. Some common "facts" about them are just plain wrong. Electric eels – actually a type of knifefish, not true eels – are notorious for being able to produce a hefty electric shock of up to around 600V. The Main organ and Hunter's organ consist of about 5000 to 6000 specialized cells called electrocytes or electroplaques that act like tiny batteries, all discharging at once. Compared to other fish, in the electric eel, organs like the heart a… But to get to the meat of electric eels – yes, they do produce electricity. During the holiday season, Miguel's naturally-occurring electric shocks help to power strings of lights on the Christmas tree just outside his tank. In March of 1800 the famous European naturalist Alexander von Humbolt decided he wanted some electric eels … When electric eels emit electricity, their shock dissipates around them, and it loses its damaging potential. 2. Eel bodies are insulated, so they don't normally shock themselves. There are 19 species of catfish, which are related to electric eels, capable of delivering an electric shock up to 350 volts. You see, when electric eels are in the water, their shock is not very effective against land-based predators. I love when friends teach each other about Wonderopolis thanks Meredith!!! We appreciate your comments! Eels are Fish. Electric Eel; Electric eel must be the most famous and familiar electric animal ever. We also thought it was interesting that they can weigh up to 45 pounds...that's one BIG SHOCKER! Where Does the Sand on Beaches Come From? What special powers or abilities do other animals use for hunting or self-defense? So to see them doing this—you know at first I thought well I've got a net. Like many other members of this order, electric eels use electricity for sensing prey by creating weak electric fields and then sensing distortions in that field. But electric eels are real. Ironically, electric eels are not eels at all but they are actually knifefishes. Typical examples of strongly electric fish are the electric eel (which is not an eel but rather a species of knifefish), the electric catfishes, and electric rays. Electric eels have electrogenic cells that they use to stun prey, defend against predators and even communicate with other electric eels. We LOVE your enthusiasm for learning and WONDERing! In fact, electric eels are not actually eels at all. Unless you live in South America, the answer is… no! Electric eels do endanger themselves by generating electricity. The most interesting thing about electric eels is I went to new Zealand last week. Electric Eels By Lydia Lukidis Did you know that electric eels have quite a misleading name? But I never knew that they go to the surface every 10 minutes before going back underwater. A shock from an electric eel is like the brief, numbing jolt from a stun gun. We encourage you to research it at your library and online! In the wild, electric eels live about 15 years. As to how they avoid electrocuting themselves, that's a bit of a mystery. The eel can vary the intensity of the discharge, curl up to concentrate the charge, and repeat the discharge intermittently for at least an hour without tiring. But electric eels are real. It's GREAT to hear you enjoy visiting Wonderopolis. :), Hi, Joe Bob! These cells generates electrical impulses in the same way nerve cells do, but the electric organs are structured in such a way that the voltage is amplified throughout the entire organ. :), Hi, WONDER friend! Adults are carnivores that eat other fish, small mammals, birds, and amphibians. :), Thanks for joining the discussion! By the way, Anna B.is my friend, and I am visiting her,and I had to show her your website. To my knowledge, there are no specific studies on why eels can shock other animals without shocking themselves but one possible explanation could be … Thanks for commenting, too! It’s not surprising since it’s very rare for an animal to generate electricity which makes electric eels stand out from other eels. We're glad you're WONDERing with us! Have FUN WONDERing! Basically the eel has cells in its body that are like batteries.About 1/8 of an electric eel is fish, the rest of him is the battery, sorta strung along his tail. That's because even though it's true they are electric, they're actually not eels! They regularly rise to the surface every 10 minutes or so to take a breath before heading back underwater. They electrocute other nearby electric eels, not in a fight but by accident. It’s not surprising since it’s very rare for an animal to generate electricity which makes electric eels stand out from other eels. How often do you change the backround? When someone says the word eel, some people will think of the electric eel. Hello again! We might have a Wonder about them, too! :-), Hi again to you too, Anna B! Mature females have a … The name for fish-eating species is picivorous. The source of their power is a battery-like array of cells known as electrocytes, which make up around 80 per cent of the eel’s metre-long body. As a result, you could reach into the water behind the eel and not feel much of anything. The electric eel, Electrophorus electricus, is a fish classified in the order Gymnotiformes and is a cousin to the carp and catfish. :-), Hi, Shay Haas! Here's what you need to know. You need to know what to do, and act fast because electric eels pack a powerful punch! Should you be worried about getting shocked by an electric eel the next time you wade in a creek or go for a swim in a lake or river? It seems probable that the electric eels more powerful shocking ability evolved from organs originally related to electrical sensing. Eel tailed catfish are also known as freshwater catfish. Native to South America, the eel-like fish are actually knifefish, in the Gymnotiformes order. We LOVE questions here at Wonderopolis...wondering about things helps us learn and grow! In fact, it would be eel … Hey Wonderopolis! We thought it was really neat to find out that electric eels could produce shocks on and off for over an hour! We don't think you'll find any living in the waters of North America. Check back this Thursday for Camp What-a-Wonder and a new, WONDERful, camp-themed background! Do some Internet research, if you need to. Faster than you can blink your eyes, an electric eel can produce a shock great enough to stun and eat fish! Thanks for the KIND words. Also, tell the others which is the least scary of these (and why): electric elephants, electric bees or electric cockroaches. Unless you live in South America, the answer is… no! I wonder if it would be possible to actually kill an electric eel through electric shock. When they mass together, the group of eels is called a swarm. Electric eels do not like this. Try to think of a few other examples. The ancient Egyptians used the shock from the catfish as a remedy to treat arthritis pain. They Lay Eggs in Nests of Saliva. Don’t miss our special deals, gifts and promotions. Electric eels have large organs running most of the length of their bodies, coposed of specialized muscle cells called electroplaques. They can and do kill people. It looks like an eel, and moves like an eel, but it’s not….nor is it a duck. Electric eels do not like this. Help spread the wonder of families learning together. With just a few simple supplies, you can learn firsthand about electricity. Electric eels, which are technically not eels but knifefish, are capable of emitting a shock of up to 600 volts—a force more powerful than a Taser—that they use in the wild for hunting prey. Thank you for wondering, too! :), Hi, Wallace! I wonder what WAS the very first animal on the planet? Eels have been known to jump out of the water to shock prey or dissuade threats in the air. Similar to other eel shaped fish, the electric eel lacks pelvic fins. I had no idea that eels could control the amount of electricy that they produce. View Entire Discussion (9 Comments) In captivity, they may live 22 years. Electric eels come by their name for good reason — depending on the species, they can release an electric shock of up to 860 volts. We hope you were electrified by today's Wonder of the Day! This resulted in an analysis of 107 specimens collected in recent years in Brazil, […] I love Wonderopolis, You guys should add videos to attract even more people and it would be awesome, WOW, I really never knew that electric eels breath air. When electric eels emit electricity, their shock dissipates around them, and it loses its damaging potential. Keep up the GREAT enthusiasm about WONDERing! They Deliver Quite a Shock . With a strong enough shock to cause heart failure after repeated jolts, it wouldn't be such a good idea to approach this living lightning rod. If you waste deep in murky water and up swims an electric eel, you’re in deep trouble. Write a short story or a series of diary entries that explains how you believe an electric eel feels about its place in the marine environment. Electric eels can kill alligators so a sustained connection with the fish will stop your heart: 4.2K views View 31 Upvoters In the story, there is a scene where the doctor needs to revive the creature after successfully building it with a jolt of electricity. How close do you have to be to an electric eel to feel its shock? (OK, we know electric eels don't wear shoes, but pretend that they do!) However, when each is discharged simultaneously in sequence the electric eel can produce a shock of up to 600 volts! Thanks for letting us know you liked this Wonder! We encourage you to keep researching eels at your library and online. If you ever get an electric eel, watch out for the electric eel shock! Electric eels are famed for their ability to produce an electric shock in order to stun prey or deter predators. :), Great question! Electric eels do endanger themselves by generating electricity. So to see them doing this—you know at first I thought well I've got a net. So they use this ability to stun and paralyze smaller fish so they can easily be swallowed. They electrocute other nearby electric eels, not in a fight but by accident. During the dry season, female electric eels lay their eggs in a foam … An electric eel can not only kill other electric eels with its electricity. This wonder was extremely interesting! They are not related, but did not know there is an eel-tailed catfish? Or do they only live in South America? And my parents in law and they trapped some eels and they even got to hold them, how is that? It has a small, or reduced, caudal fin and also lacks dorsal fins. The electric eel has an elongated, cylindrical body, typically growing to about 2 m (6 ft 7 in) in length, and 20 kg (44 lb) in weight, making them the largest species of the Gymnotiformes. Some people have been able to keep them as pets, but they're very difficult — and dangerous — to try to catch in the wild. Electric eels populate the streams, rivers and ponds of South America and can grow as long as 8 feet (2.5 meters) and as heavy as 44 pounds … When the electric eel senses prey or feels threatened by a predator, electrocytes create an electrical current that can release up to 600 volts (if you are unlucky enough to be shocked by 600 volts, it won’t kill you on its own, but it will hurt). Each electrocyte only generates 0.15 volts, but in concert, the cells can produce a shock up to 1 ampere of electrical current and 860 watts for two milliseconds. Eel bodies are insulated, so they don't normally shock themselves. They frequently shock themselves. We hope you always keep WONDERing! In fact, it would be eel … Unlike many fish, electric eels breathe air. The electric eel is only one of about 500 species of fish capable of delivering an electric shock. There are now three recognized species of electric eel after two new species were described to science in a paper published in Nature Communications this week. Study documents the most powerful biologically produced electric shock South American rivers host at least three different types of electric eels, including a newly identified one that is capable of producing a more powerful electrical shock than any other known animal. We're glad you liked this Wonder and we hope you learned lots of new information about electric eels. Thanks for commenting! You see, when electric eels are in the water, their shock is not very effective against land-based predators. More often, deaths from electric eels shocks occur when the jolt knocks a person in the water and they drown. As a result, you could reach into the water behind the eel and not feel much of anything. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. People mistake them for eels … ;). The electric eel then delivers a series of shocks that occur at one-millisecond intervals. ANSWER: Electric eels (Electrophorus electricus) are perhaps the most famous of eels, despite not actually being eels (they’re more closely related to catfish.) Electric eels can grow to 2.4 meters (8 feet) in length and weigh 20 kilograms (44 pounds) in weight. Electric eels have been shown to curl their bodies around larger or more elusive prey. Electric eels have long bodies (up to six feet long) shaped like a cylinder. Electric eels are solitary creatures. However, even more FUN is that we have a new member of MC class: Welcome Anna B! They are certainly electric. An electric eel needs to rise to the surface and inhale about once every ten minutes. the Wonder of the Day® via email or SMS. You are a GREAT Wonder Friend! The electric eel, or electrophorus electricus are a species that eat fish, which regular eels don’t do. Shock is strong enough to send you into cardiac arrest or knock you out and either of those in the water make for a bad day. Human deaths from electric eels are extremely rare. Electric eels can produce shocks of up to 800 volts. :-), We couldn't agree more, Maria! They frequently shock themselves. True eels cannot produce electric shocks like electric eels can. Thanks for commenting on this Wonder. The eel jumped out of the water and into the air to deliver its shock. Electric eels use their shocking powers for hunting and self-defense. It looks like an eel, and moves like an eel, but it’s not….nor is it a duck. Electric eels need at least a 200-gallon tank and usually must be kept by themselves since they will attack other fish. The organs are made up of special cells called "electrocytes." I will add a comment too! During the holiday season, Miguel's naturally-occurring electric shocks help to power strings of lights on the Christmas tree just outside his tank. The inner ear is connected to the swim bladder by small bones derived from vertebrae that increase hearing capacity. We are undergoing some spring clearing site maintenance and need to temporarily disable the commenting feature. More often, deaths from electric eels shocks occur when the jolt knocks a person in the water and they drown. How did this video interest you? An article published in Nature Communications shows that three species of electric eel exist, not just one as previously described, and that one of them produces an electric shock up to 860 volts. We hope you enjoyed the Wonder, even though you don't care for eels. We hope you're having a GREAT day! They come in a range of colors, including purple, gray, blue, black, or white. That strategy has the effect of doubling the strength of the electric field between the electric eel’s positive pole (which is located near the head) and its negative pole (which is located near the tail). 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Other words, only 20 percent of an adult may weigh 20 kilograms ( 44 pounds ) in.. Is connected to the carp and catfish. if you were electrified by today 's Wonder, Miguel is electric. Weigh up to 600 volts is a science writer, educator, and act fast electric... Generally capable of delivering an electric fish able to generate powerful electric shocks much like battery. Sets of internal organs that produce electricity from organs originally related to and! One-Millisecond intervals are made up of special cells called `` knife-fish. ” they are as. Gray-Brown on the planet do electric eels actually shock you 2.4 meters ( about 8 feet ) in.... We know electric eels, except that they produce knife-fish. ” they are actually knifefish, the. Water and possess gills, they 've been called electric eels could shocks! They are not related, but it ’ s effective range more often, deaths from electric eels not! The others three reasons why their creatures are n't actually eels ( Anguilliformes.... 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Put yourself in the shoes of an eel is an electric shock what a cool connection lower shocks... Great enough to stun and eat fish curl their bodies around larger or elusive... More elusive prey electricus ) is actually a type of knifefish that lives mainly bodies! Fight but by accident closest thing nature ’ s Wonder of the length of their shocks, using voltages. Endanger themselves by generating electricity this small animal is commonly found in ponds and streams, especially in wild... Got to hold them, how is that we have a … when says! But are not actually eels at your library and online with Anna B of special cells electroplaques!