Mega-piranhas And Mysterious Livestock Attacks, Oh My!

By Nick Venable | 8 years ago

piranhaThis past week gave us two news stories seemingly culled from the first acts for two dumb-as-shit Syfy movies of the week. From the as-yet-unsolved to the as-yet-uncloned, the lines are blurred between animal and monster, and I wouldn’t want to run into either of these things in my backyard.

Shelby County, KY has seen a number of strange animal attacks at farms in the area. Farmer Kevin Cox has had a goat with one ear bitten completely off, with another barely hanging on. His steer bulls were later found covered in blood with their ears missing. Another farmer in the area had five goats whose injuries were bad enough to warrant being put down. Others have also reported the night attacks, but no one knows what’s causing them.

Luckily, there weren’t any asinine cryptozoology assumptions made involving the beast’s origins being supernatural or something similar. A woman did tell county officials she and her daughter were followed by an animal making an “indescribable” sound, but that’s as wild as it gets. Searches and traps are being utilized to try and identify the ear-loving culprit. Maybe it’s ashamed of its weird noise so it tries taking away the hearing abilities of its prey.

From rural farmland to oceans of the past, Nature‘s Scientific Reports reports with size adjusted accordingly, the long-extinct mega-piranha (Megapiranha paranensis) probably had the deadliest bite of any non-dinosaurs, beating out the
giant Megalodon shark. (No comparisons were made to the Sharktopus, so I guarantee nothing in this column.) The 20-to-30 pound fish lived between 6 million and 10 million years ago in South America before the Andes Mountains were created, thus destroying their natural habitat and diminishing their seafood buffet.

Study co-author Justin Grubich of the American University of Cairo, and his research team, studied the biting power of the modern black piranha, a 2-pound “weakling” whose jaws generate up to 72 pounds-force, around 35 times their weight. Because their jaw muscles extend almost all the way up to their front teeth, this gives the fish the power to bite through flesh and cartilage like people bite through piranha-shaped chocolates. Extrapolating from that data, the researchers concluded the mega-piranha exerted between 279 and 1,067 pounds-force, depending on its size, giving it strength 9 to 50 times its own weight. By extreme comparison, the bite of a Tyrannosaurus Rex ranged from around 7,800 to 12,800 pounds-force, while the human jaws hit from 270-290 pounds-force.

I’m not saying that long dead deadly fish are responsible for biting the ears off of midwestern goats and cows. But I’m not saying it’s impossible. Because that would be stupid.

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