Historical Events  Science

Number of humans officially killed by piranhas?

MMDE: Thousands

Current: One

Everyone is familiar with the idea that when some unfortunate victim falls into piranha-infested waters, they don't have long to live.

The image of them being turned into a skeleton in a bubbling, screaming frenzy has appeared in countless movies from exploring the Amazon to the lairs of James Bond's most fearsome villains

Despite appearing many times in this form, the truth nowadays is that this has only officially happened once.

This MMDE is similar to the one regarding great white sharks, where again the actual number killed is far lower than popularly believed.

Shy "vultures of the river"

Piranhas are actually more like vultures, and are considered a good thing for freshwater rivers. That's because without their scavenging nature, carrion would remain in the water and rot, causing further disease than would otherwise be the case. They travel in large swarms because they are actually shy, and this strategy is a form of defence against predators. They even eat non-flesh foods such as berries, nuts and fruit.

Piranhas are omnivores, and shy ones at that, commonly eating small fish, seeds, nuts, fruits and seaweed. Even the most carnivorous species, Pygocentrus nattereri (red-bellied piranha), scavenge rather than attack their prey and risk injury themselves. They are the vultures of freshwater.

-- explorersweb.com

There are many reports of piranhas biting humans each year, but these bites are usually small and non-life threatening.

People have bathed with piranhas, and even swam the entire length of the Amazon river without incident.

Canoe capsize

The one confirmed report is of a six year old girl who fell into piranha infested water in Brazil whilst canoeing. Other people in the canoe swam away to safety, but the remains of the girl were sadly found later and her legs had been eaten by the fish. It is speculated she drowned before dying. There's another report of a boy of a similar age dying from infection after a piranha bite, but the idea behind this Mandela Effect is the popular one of the body becoming a skeleton quickly, as depicted in popular media.