A researcher from Vanderbilt University decided to measure how powerful the electrocution of electric eels is, and he did it in a shocking way – literally. He knew electric eels deliver powerful electric shocks when they’re out of the water so, for a better accuracy, he took an eel out of its natural environment and let it deliver 10 shocks on his arms.
Why do electric eels jump out of the water to attack?
Some time ago, researcher Kenneth Catania observed a peculiar behavior exhibited by electric eels. Each time he used a metallic net to fish them, they leapt out of their fish tank, and tried to attack the net with electric pulses. This made him assume it got out of the water to attack bigger threats placed on land.
He even developed a study on this subject, but felt like it wasn’t complete. Therefore, he decided to go pretty far for science, and see how powerful are the shocks delivered by electric eels. He knew water could have absorbed some of the shock, so attacking on land seemed more effective.
The researcher let himself be electrocuted to measure the power of the eel shocks
Therefore, he built a complex machine which could measure how much electricity flowed through his arm as he was electrocuted, and then allowed the eel to attack him 10 times. This is how he observed the intensity of the current reached a maximum of 50 milliamps. This was enough to activate Catania’s pain receptors, and made it instinctively withdraw his hand each time he received the shocks.
Finless, as the researcher nicknamed the eel, was merely a young specimen, which measured only a bit over one foot in length. These measurements, no matter how painful they were, allowed scientists to measure how much electricity would an eel deliver, depending on its size. All the other details regarding this study have been published in the journal Current Biology.
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