The curious tale of the piranhas that merely eat a few scales off their fish prey

Not all piranhas eat in the feeding frenzies that Hollywood is so fond of depicting. Instead, some species remove and eat just a few scales from their prey. As described in UW News, some of these scale-eaters ram into their unsuspecting prey, while others open their mouths to extraordinary dimensions and use specialized teeth to pry off scales. The wide variety of approaches is captured in a new paper that placed these fish in CT scanners, as part of the Scan All Fish program led by SAFS professor Adam Summers. The scans revealed unprecedented details about how this particular group of piranhas manages to survive and thrive on their rather odd diet. The research was conducted at the Friday Harbor Laboratories by postdoc Matthew Kolman, researcher Kory Evans, SAFS undergraduate Jonathan Huie and SAFS professor Adam Summers, and appears in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

The extendable jaws of Catoprion mento, a piranha species that lives entirely by eating the scales off other fish species.


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