Jolting discovery: Powerful new electric eel found

This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows an Electrophorus voltai, one of the two newly discovered electric eel species, in Brazil's Xingu River. While 250 species of fish in South America generate electricity, only electric eels use it to stun prey and for self-protection. (Leandro Sousa via AP)
This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows an Electrophorus voltai, one of the two newly discovered electric eel species, in Brazil’s Xingu River. While 250 species of fish in South America generate electricity, only electric eels use it to stun prey and for self-protection. (AP/Leandro Sousa)
This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows an Electrophorus voltai, one of the two newly discovered electric eel species, in Brazil's Xingu River. While 250 species of fish in South America generate electricity, only electric eels use it to stun prey and for self-protection. (Leandro Sousa via AP)
This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows an Electrophorus voltai, one of the two newly discovered electric eel species, in Brazil’s Xingu River. While 250 species of fish in South America generate electricity, only electric eels use it to stun prey and for self-protection. (AP/Leandro Sousa)
This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows typical electric eel lowland habitat in Brazil's Itaquai River. A newly discovered electric eel, Electrophorus varii, primarily lives in lowland regions of the Amazon. (D. Bastos via AP)
This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows typical electric eel lowland habitat in Brazil’s Itaquai River. A newly discovered electric eel, Electrophorus varii, primarily lives in lowland regions of the Amazon. (AP/D. Bastos)
This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows typical electric eel highland habitat in Suriname's Coppename River. Two newly discovered electric eel species, Electrophorus electricus and E. voltai, live in the highland regions of the Amazon. (Carlos David de Santana via AP)
This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows typical electric eel highland habitat in Suriname’s Coppename River. Two newly discovered electric eel species, Electrophorus electricus and E. voltai, live in the highland regions of the Amazon. (AP/Carlos David de Santana)
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This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows an Electrophorus voltai, one of the two newly discovered electric eel species, in Brazil's Xingu River. While 250 species of fish in South America generate electricity, only electric eels use it to stun prey and for self-protection. (Leandro Sousa via AP)
This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows an Electrophorus voltai, one of the two newly discovered electric eel species, in Brazil's Xingu River. While 250 species of fish in South America generate electricity, only electric eels use it to stun prey and for self-protection. (Leandro Sousa via AP)
This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows typical electric eel lowland habitat in Brazil's Itaquai River. A newly discovered electric eel, Electrophorus varii, primarily lives in lowland regions of the Amazon. (D. Bastos via AP)
This undated photo provided by researchers in September 2019 shows typical electric eel highland habitat in Suriname's Coppename River. Two newly discovered electric eel species, Electrophorus electricus and E. voltai, live in the highland regions of the Amazon. (Carlos David de Santana via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Researchers report two newly discovered species of electric eels in South America, one of which can deliver a bigger jolt than any other known animal.

The researchers collected 107 eels in four countries and found differences in their DNA, along with minor physical variations.

One species had the ability to generate 860 volts of electricity, more than the 650 volts discharged by the only previously identified type of electric eel.

While 250 species of fish in South America generate electricity, only electric eels use it to stun prey and for self-protection.

Study leader C. David de Santana of Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History says the discovery illustrates the importance of protecting and studying the Amazon rainforest area.

The study was published this week in the journal Nature Communications.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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