Scientists Have Solved the Mystery Behind Giant Amazonian Fish with Toughest Scales

Fishes have a protective layer of scales over their skin, which offers them a flexible body. Even more, it makes them light enough to move upwards. These various needs have pressed the development of scales that can bear significant beating without affecting the freedom of movement. Scientists have Studied a giant Amazon fish, which swims waters crowded by piranhas. A newly published study in journal Matter sheds light on a mysterious fish, Pirarucu. It includes the participation of scientists from the University of California’s Berkeley and San Diego campuses. On Wednesday, they have detailed the unique pattern and impressive features of the skinned shield of the fish, Arapaima Gigas. The team said their findings could assist in the creation of a better waistcoat for people. Even more, the discovery would assist in the development of various applications in aerospace design.

The Amazonian fish can grow up to 15 feet long and may weigh around 441 pounds. Those features add them to the fleet of the world’s largest fish living in freshwater. The fish, also known as Arapaima, can breathe-in air and live up to 24 hours on the land. It is usually present in rivers in Peru, Guyana, and Brazil. As noted above, those Amazon basins are crowded by piranhas who have sharp-edged teeth, along with incredible bite strength and fatal eating madness. Arapaima has developed the potential to protect itself from piranhas. The scientists said Arapaima’s scales have all the best qualities of a bullet-proof vest. But the components are better-merged into one solid piece integrating tolerance and flexibility.

Even more, Pirarucu’s adaption has solved the difficulty that engineers face while trying to create synthetic armors. Those fishes have a firm, but flexible, interior layer covered by collagen to its mineralized external layer of scales. Notably, Pirarucu’s every scale has two layers; the first one is highly mineralized, while the other is consists of fibers of collagen. It is a common protein present in the skin of all vertebrates. From both layers, the mineral one had the potential to resist the type of damage that a bite of piranha would make. But in case of any injury like a fracture, the body releases collagen to stop the spreading of crack.

Other fishes also make use of collagen, like Pirarucu, but the collagen layers in the scales Pirarucu are thicker than in any other type of fish. Even more, a single scale of Arapaima is as thick as a grain of rice. The team says this incredible thickness of scales is the secret behind the fishes’ ability to protect itself.

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