The Michigan Natural Resources Department received reports of a fish with human teeth swimming in the Great Lakes State’s waters. The Pacu fish is not a genetic abnormality, but rather a close piranha relative that renounced its carnivorous diet.
- Pacu fish are the vegetarian cousins of piranhas.
- The fish with human teeth is rumored to have a taste for male testicles.
- Pacu doesn’t naturally occur in US waters, researchers believing that the specimens they encountered were released by locals who kept them as pets.
According to the Natural Resources Department, the Pacu samples that are currently roaming the waters of Lake St. Clair were probably released into the wild by owners that had no more room for the unusual fish in their home aquariums.
Nick Popoff, the manager of the Aquatic Species and Regulatory Affairs Unit at the Natural Resources Department declared that the practice is “almost never humane” and that the ecosystems in which the specimens are released suffer as much as the abandoned fish.
“Pets released from confined, artificial environments are poorly equipped to fend off predators and may be unable to successfully forage for food or find shelter.”
Popoff continued by stating that:
“Those who do succeed in the wild can spread exotic diseases to native animals. In the worst-case scenario, released animals can thrive and reproduce, upsetting natural ecosystems to the degree that these former pets become invasive species.”
Pacu, or the fish with human teeth, are equipped with powerful teeth that are able to chew plants, nuts, and fruits. The tropical species can grow up to three feet and weigh an average of 55 pounds.
Currently, the species is not able to reproduce in US waters, but climate change may have a final word in that assessment. That is why the fish are not to be released in creeks, ponds, or lakes.
Rumors spread on the internet suggest that the Pacu can attack men’s testicles, confusing them for the nuts it usually feeds on in its natural habitat.
A professor of Natural History from the Copenhagen Museum fueled this idea after advising people from Sweden and Denmark to keep their swimsuits on at all times after a Pacu specimen was found in local waters.
Pacu is related to the infamous piranha fish. However, scientists believe that since the former settled on a more vegetarian diet, their sharp teeth became flatter, more adapted to nuts and fruits that fresh meat.
Image source: Wikipedia