Injured soldiers attempted to cross the Paraguay River.
But they would never reach the opposite banks, having been devoured by piranhas.
This anecdote reinforces our ideas about these fish with their razor sharp teeth. An anecdote that dates back 150 years and that relates the ONLY proven case of a fatal piranha attack on humans.
Admittedly, fisherfolk and exotic fish owners have undoubtedly lamented the occasional painful bite, but what animal doesn't try to defend itself when cornered?
So where does this bad reputation come from?
Undoubtedly from interpretations of the beliefs and myths of South American tribes, combined with the more or less fantastic tales told by unscrupulous explorers. How could they recount their adventures in the Amazon Rainforest without reporting back on a few frightening predators.
A role tailor-made for this gregarious fish that travels in groups of hundreds, and its impressive dentition.
Later on, the cinema took up that myth and, so as not to disappoint its audience, gave the piranha a surreal size, teeth that would make a T-rex cower, and even decked it out with wings so that it could ravage both land and water!
A completely make-believe image and reputation, just like the vampire or the werewolf, but which, in the case of the piranha, bears the name of a real animal, furthering the confusion and periodically feeding the collective imagination.
Click here to learn more about piranhas - which you can of course also discover at the Aquarium by taking a tour through its tropical greenhouse!
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