A fish with humanoid teeth

Courtesy of National Geographic, here is a photo of the pacu (Piaractus brachypomus), an Amazonian fish with a set of remarkably human-like choppers. It’s no surprise that they are herbivorous — eating mainly seeds — and that they can inflict a nasty bite.  They’re related to piranhas.


15 Pacu teeth 3.jpgPhoto from National Geographic website

26 Comments

  1. Posted July 6, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me a colossally stupid thing that Cornelius Hunter (one of the latest hacks to spew at the DI’s blog and UD) wrote:

    I debated one professor who claimed that both similarities and differences between species are evidence for evolution. Talk about having your cake and eat it too.

    darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/07/not-even-wrong.html

    I mean, imagine, similarities and differences both pointing to the process of, uh, evolution.

    Oh, except that evolution predicts exactly that, and a non-ignoramus would have discussed the differences between the similarities and the differences (like the nesting of similarities–themselves typically changed during evolution, but recognizable as basic shared characteristics). Not Hunter, though, whose entire modus operandi is to make strawmen to defeat, however usual that is for creationists.

    Convergences, like those fish teeth, then, are held to be impossible in evolution, no matter how stupid it is to claim that similar forms will not appear in related animals (we are fish, recognizably so in many of our bones, genes, and similar organs) in response to similar selective pressures. And never look at the typically very different origins of the “similar structures,” like our eye and the octopus eye.

    Anyway, this seemed a good time to laugh at how basically stupid about the theory these “experts” are.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

    • Posted July 7, 2009 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      “we are fish, recognizably so in many of our bones, genes, and similar organs”

      Hope so! Otherwise I’ve been wasting my time with all this zebrafish research.

  2. Kitty'sBitch
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Okay, that photo is supercool, but Glen ruined my mood with his quote.
    DAMNIT!

  3. newenglandbob
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Someone get that fish some Colgate, a brush, mouthwash and some floss. My dentist would have him/her in every four months for a cleaning.

    The front 6 teeth (why 6?) look human, the back teeth(5 & 5?) – not so much.

  4. MadScientist
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Hmm .. it might be cheaper for me to go on an Amazonian fishing trip than to go to the dentist. I hope I don’t need any replacement dentures any time soon.

  5. James F
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was one of these.

  6. Anton Mates
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Looks like Rob Liefeld designed it.

  7. Joshua Slocum
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Ugh. That hits my irrational I’m totally squicked out because it crosses a boundary response. Rather like the well-known phenomenon among robotics researchers: if you make a robot that’s both too human-looking while also not quite human enough, people get the creeping willies. Sorry, I can’t remember the citation – it’s interesting, trust me.

    Super cool fish, though. In my head, he speaks in a Don Knotts voice and calls everyone “Pally.”

  8. Abbie
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Joshua, that’s known as “Uncanny Valley”, dunno who coined it.

    • Joshua Slocum
      Posted July 7, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Oh, thank you Abbie! That’s exactly what I was thinking of, but had forgotten.

  9. Posted July 7, 2009 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    Let me see, it’s fishy, it gives a nasty bite, and it’s related to the piranha. Hmmm, I can think of a few people like that.

  10. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Where did that pacu attend law school?

  11. ennui
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    I think I know the title of Mr. Shubin’s next book.

  12. tdd
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    True story. When I was younger we had a 200 gallon aquarium with a Pacu in it. The fish got too big for the tank and was destroying it and fighting with the other fish. Instead of filleting it, we let it go in the local quarry.

    A couple of months later, the local paper had a front page story of a “pirahna” that was caught by a local fisherman. The fish was kept in a tank at the local bait shop as an attraction.

    • Posted July 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think you’re supposed to do that. Hilarious story.

      • tdd
        Posted July 7, 2009 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        Because it was a quarry, it didn’t have any tributaries or runoff to natural sources, so we figured the environmental impact would be minimal if the fish even survived, especially because there was just one of them.

        We never fessed up (or took credit) to letting the fish go in the quarry, because it was against the law to loose foreign species.

  13. Hempenstein
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Interesting – re-looking at the teeth, they don’t seem to have bilateral symmetry. Perhaps they regenerate if lost in battle, and the little (or big?) ones are regenerated examples??

    James F – I had the same thought as you on first look.

  14. voiceofmoderation
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    That guy should floss. He has serious periodontal problems.

  15. neil
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Looks like my ex

  16. Posted July 8, 2009 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    That guy should floss. He has serious periodontal problems.

  17. Forrester McLeod
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Is that a tongue I see? Okay….a fish with a tongue. There has got to be a great lesbian joke in there somewhere!

  18. Dan
    Posted July 13, 2009 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    pretty awesome showing of convergent evolution. much like birds and bats and insects having wings, teeth structure is similar in these fish as it is with other mammalian organisms.

  19. Posted July 15, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Lol wow. At first I thought it was a photoshopped job to be honest with you!

  20. beasquared
    Posted July 16, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    That photo just looks kinda gross…

  21. Posted January 16, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Lol wow. At first I thought it was a photoshopped job to be honest with you!

  22. Posted September 25, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Pacu fish is a tropical fish from the Serrasalminae family (serrated salmon family) which is an extension of the characids often referred to as tetras. Pacu fish, cousins to the piranha and known as “frugivores,” have human-like teeth that can crack nuts and fruits. The only difference is in the teeth structure which is sharp and pointed in case of piranhas and square-sharped in case of pacu fish. Also unlike piranhas, pacu fish are peaceful and don’t have an aggressive temperament.


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  3. […] and has 0 Comments so far. Apparently, there is a fish, the Pacu (Piaractus brachypomus), with disturbingly humanoid teeth.  While it is related to piranhas, the Pacu is a herbivorous seed […]

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