Can Electric Eel Kill Human?

Can Electric Eel Kill Human
Can Electric Eel Kill Human

The Electric Eel is a species of exotic animal commonly found in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins of South America. Its scientific name is Electrophorus Electricus. This fish can generate a lot of electricity from its body. The fish’s body is helped to generate electricity through its specialized system. To generate electricity in the body of the fish there is a large number of particles that produce strong electric currents. This electric current affects the special particle-coupled material on the back of the fish and generates electricity through it. Now a question arises, can electric Eel kill human? Let’s find out the answer and see an analysis of research that uncovered the strange genetic effects of Electric Eels.

Can Electric Eel Kill Human?

Electric Eels have the potential to pose a serious threat to humans. Although documented deaths from electric eel shock are rare, they are not impossible. This remarkable aquatic animal can generate a powerful 800-volt electrical current. This is a force capable of rendering a person incapacitated long enough to cause respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, or drowning. The electric Eel’s unique nervous system, orchestrating the activity of electrolyte cells, sets it apart from other electric fish on Earth, creating a powerful and potentially deadly force in the aquatic environment.

860 Volt Surprise: Uncovering Strange Genetic Effects of Electric Eels

Electric Eels can naturally alter the genetics of nearby organisms. And Nagoya University researchers highlight the role of natural electricity in genetic modification.

The Electric Eel is the world’s largest energy-producing animal.  This animal can release up to 860 volts, that enough to run a machine. In a recent study, a research team from Japan’s Nagoya University discovered that “Electric Eels” can release enough electricity to genetically modify small fish larvae. They published their research report in the scientific journal PeerJ – Life and Environment.

Understanding Electroporation in Nature

The researchers’  findings contribute novel insights to our understanding of electroporation, an innovative gene delivery technique. Electroporation uses an electric field to create temporary holes in the cell membrane. This allows molecules such as DNA or proteins to enter target cells.

The research team was led by Nagoya University Professor Eiichi Hondo and Assistant Professor Atsuo Iida. They thought that if electricity flows in a river, it can affect the cells of nearby organisms. Cells can synthesize DNA fragments in water, known as environmental DNA. To test this, they exposed the young fish to a DNA solution in their laboratory with a marker that glows with light to see if the zebrafish has taken up the DNA. Then, they introduced an electric eel and asked it to bite into a feeder to drain the electricity.

The Electric Eel: Natural Agents of Genetic Modification

According to Iida, electroporation is usually seen as a process found in the laboratory. But he wasn’t sure. “I thought electrolysis could happen in nature,” he said. “I had an epiphany: Electric Eels dwelling in the Amazon River possess untapped potential as sustainable energy generators, with the organisms inhabiting the nearby environment acting as receptive cells, all interconnected by the intricate web of environmental DNA fragments released into the water would become foreign genes, causing genetic recombination in nearby organisms due to electrical discharge.”

The researchers discovered that 5% of the larvae had gene transfer markers.”This observation suggests that the gene transfer process into cells is propelled by the electrical discharges emitted by Eels. Even amidst the Eels’ pulses exhibiting distinctive shapes and fluctuating voltages, a departure from the standardized machinery employed in traditional electroporation,” Iida said. “Organisms that can generate electricity, such as Electric Eels and other organisms, can affect genetic variation in nature.”

Other studies have observed a similar phenomenon with naturally occurring fields, such as lightning, affecting nematodes and soil bacteria. Iida is very excited about the potential of electric field research in living organisms. He believes these effects are beyond what conventional wisdom understands. Furthermore, he emphasized that exploring new biological phenomena through innovative and unconventional concepts will shed light on the complexity of living organisms and will contribute to future progress.

Zebrafish larvae and a DNA solution were placed in a small container and placed inside the tank where the electric eel produced electrical pulses when it was fed by the experimenter.

Eel vs Shark

Habitat of the Electric Eel

Electric eels live in freshwater sources such as streams, floodplains, and marshes. They live in the lower layers of these freshwater sources, usually in shaded areas, where dissolved oxygen concentrations are low. Electric eels have evolved a behavior that compensates for the lack of oxygen in their preferred habitat – obligate air breathing. As a result, the electric eel comes to the surface to breathe air. Additionally, because their mouths have folds with a high degree of vascularization, thus increasing the surface area of these structures, electric eels consume enough oxygen to support life underwater.

Electric discharge represents another important adaptation for electric eels. Living in water helps them increase the conductivity of electrical charges when hunting, defending themselves, or searching for potential prey. Because this conductivity increases the surface area of the animal’s electric charge, this adaptation may be essential for electric eels, as they have poor eyesight and live in habitats with few means of escape. The increased area of their electric charge gives these animals a greater opportunity to stun their prey and protect them from potential predators.


Lesson Summary (Can Electric Eel Kill Human)

The Electric Eel is an antagonistic freshwater fish inhabiting the wetlands, streams, and ponds of northeastern South America. Electric eels have electrolytes, specialized cells that help the animal produce 800 volts of energy per charge. The electric eel uses electronic technology to communicate with other animals, to wean itself from prey, and to hunt other small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.

Although similar in appearance to a true eel, the crest and dorsal fin of the electric eel do not resemble that of a true eel. On the other hand, electric eels are more closely related to carp and catfish than to true eels. Electric eels are characterized by:

Long snake-like body, flat head, A long anal tail for navigation, Dark gray-brown color on the back, Yellow-orange color towards the water, Up to 8 feet Up to 44 lbs, Electric eel gills restrict air breathing. They get up to 80% of their oxygen by coming north for air.

REFERENCES: “Electric organ discharge from electric eel supports DNA conversion in teleost larvae under laboratory conditions” by Shintaro Sakaki1, Ryo Ito1, Hideki Abe1, Masato Kinoshita2, Eiichi Hondo1, Atsuo Iida, 4 December 2023, Piernoz-Life and NA-Life. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.16596

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