Traveling in the vastness of the Amazon, it’s easy to get caught up in the beauty of the jungle. The area teems with life, particularly the river itself. Home to hundreds of different fish, reptiles, and snakes, it’s a place that is both biodiverse and dangerous, with alligators and piranha stalking the waters. If looks could kill, however, there would be a new top predator in this jungle.
The pacu fish is a cousin to the piranha, with an exterior presentation much like other fish of the region. In fact, they are prized as aquarium fish for their beauty, but it takes just a quick glance in the mouth of these creatures to understand the fear they inspire. Firstly, they have teeth, setting them apart from many species of fish, but beyond that, their teeth are decidedly human-looking. This unsettling resemblance is a product of their diet, as the pacu eat mostly vegetation and detritus. Though they are located primarily in the Amazon river basin, they have been pulled from waters in Paris, Scandanavia, and North America, when their owners released them into non-native habitats.
The sheepshead fish has a similar toothy grin as the pacu, but it’s even more eerie, as its teeth are specialized for crushing fruit and nuts that fall in the river. This means they have front incisors followed by a row of molars, just like humans. Both species of fish are docile to humans, but to see recent pictures of them brings a certain uneasiness to the soul.
If you’re planning to go to the Amazon, be certain to try and see these creepy fish in their native habitat!