Scientists at Vanderbilt University have discovered Electric Eels can send out electric shockwaves much stronger than previously thought.
According to Kenneth Catania, a professor of biological sciences, we have always known that electric eels put out the biggest jolt of electricity from their heads. They can also put out a good charge from their tale, but not quite as strong.
In a new study by Catania, it has been discovered that the eel can deliver even more power than that supplied by head or tale. It does this by curling the tail around and discharging electrical voltage from both the tale and the head at the same time.
How Mr.Cantania discovered this, has been described by Scientific American magazine as, “Catania rigged up a sort of eel chew toy by attaching a dead fish to a piece of wire. The fish was fitted with electrodes that could measure the voltage produced by the eel. Then, Catania stuck the chew toy in the tank with the eel and wiggled the toy around, simulating struggling prey. Sure enough, the eels tended to wrap themselves around the fish, and when they did so, they delivered at least twice their usual zap of electricity, Catania found.”
“When the eel curls its positive and negative poles together and sandwiches the prey in between, you get a focusing of the electric field,” Catania said.
But electric eels don’t actually double the amount of electricity they produce when they go after large prey; they just direct the charges from both ends of their bodies to one specific area, which makes the charge feel more powerful to unfortunate prey items. This is a good tactic for an eel to use, said Catania, adding that the zappy critters don’t have to expend any more energy than usual when they curl up like this, but they could still end up with a bigger meal.