"What big teeth you have Mr. Pacu."

"The better to eat you with Mr. Fisherman."

(with apologies to the Brothers Grimm)


An article in USA Today noted the appearance of a pacu fish in Tuscon's Silverbell Lake.  The fisherman who reported the sighting (and biting) had no idea what he was looking at, but knew that the fish was trying to bite him and that the fish had a very big set of human-like teeth. 


Pacu fish



I think almost anyone would have freaked out at the sight, unless the fish was in its native habitat. 


Pacu fish



It was a spokesperson from the Arizona Game and Fish Department in Tucson who identified the fish as a pacu, a native of the Amazonian rivers and a relative of the famous, and deadly, piranha.  He said that the fish had likely been a pet that outgrew its tank so the owners brought it to the lake where it could survive.

Like other pet pacus that have been found away from their native waters in lakes and rivers from Russia, to Europe, to North America, pacus might survive for awhile in cold waters, but the local fish probably won't. If the pacu doesn't have vegetation to munch on, it will eat what is available, endangering the natural fish species in those waters

As for "human" teeth, the notion is anthropomorphic. In fact, according to evolutionary biologists, fish had specialized dentition long before humans did.  So, perhaps we should say humans have fish teeth!

As for humans catching an unwitting pacu, it has been done, but it's more likely that the pacu will catch you. In other words, it's advisable not to even try to catch one, but instead you should call your local fish and game department.


Sources: USA Today, Christian Science Monitor


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