Some people imagine the Amazon River as teeming with flesh-eating fishesthe deadly piranha. However, the biology of piranhas is not common knowledge. There are in fact at least a dozen different species, belonging to the characin group of fishes. Most eat fallen fruitnot as thrilling as stripping a carcass to the bone, but much more interesting.
The guide is holding open the jaws of a Red-bellied Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri)the Amazon's most notorious animal. Its powerful bite and sharp teeth can sever a finger or toe, but there are, contrary to popular belief, no confirmed fatalities resulting from a mass attack. Most tours include a fishing expedition during which tourists fish for these piranhas with nothing more than a stick, a hook and a piece of meat.
This is the skull of the red-bellied piranha, front view (left) and side view (right). This photo clearly shows the dentition of this infamous fish.