More than 200 years after the electric eel inspired the design of the first battery, it has been discovered that they can co-ordinate their “zaps”.
Researchers working in the Amazon filmed eels gathering in packs to herd prey, then stunning them with a synchronised electric shock.
“It was really amazing – we thought these were solitary animals,” said researcher Carlos David de Santana.
The discovery is published in the journal Ecology and Evolution.
Douglas Bastos, from the National Centre for Amazonian research in Manaus, Brazil, filmed the behaviour – capturing the moment of the collective electric strike. Small fish, called tetras, are the target of the attack; they fly into the air and land stunned and motionless on the water.
Dr de Santana, who works at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, was amazed when he saw this behaviour.[…]