The electric eel is not really an eel. It’s a kind of electric fish. According to a study published in the journal Science, there are six different groups of electric fish that have, over a period of millions of years, evolved organs that generate electricity. Just to let you know, every muscle cell in living beings has the electrical potential. But muscle cells in these groups of fish have evolved into electrolytes, which produce dramatically high voltages that than ordinary muscle cells.
Electric eel can emit 600 volts of shock
Evolutionary biologists wanted to figure out exactly what makes them produce electricity. Scientists analyzed genes of the electric eel and other electric fish from different families. They found that the genetic blueprint of all the electricity producing fish had the same set of 30 genes. The same genetic tools have helped build electric organs in the species of different groups independently, said Jason Gallant, electric fish scientist at Michigan State University.
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Electric fish illuminate their environments to detect objects, and produce electric signals to communicate with one another. The electric eel almost always produces low-voltage signals to sense its environment. But they have the ability to produce high voltage deadly shocks to stun or kill prey in order to defend themselves. It can emit the electric shock of more than 600 volts, five times higher than the power of a standard wall socket. Human deaths have also occurred due to electric eel shocks.
A 6-foot electric eel is actually a 6-inch fish
Michael Sussman, director of biotechnology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has been shocked by electric eels a couple of feet in size. He says it’s like putting your finger into an electric socket. A 6-foot long electric eel is actually a 6-inch fish. The remaining 5-1/2-foot is cattle prod, says Sussman. Its intestine, stomach, and all other stuff is situated close to its head. The remaining 5-1/2-foot is a full-blown electric organ. Its cells have every necessary feature to pump out high voltage electricity without shocking the fish.