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What are some facts about the prehistoric piranha?

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The prehistoric piranha is called the megapiranha. It weighs in at between 20 and 25 pounds and has a length of 5 feet, which is at least 10 times the size of its descendants. The megapiranha lived in the late Miocene epoch, nearly 10 million years ago, in the rivers of South America.

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Megapiranha had powerful jaws and could bite prey with a force of up to 1,000 pounds per square inch. This force is 50 times its own body weight, a shocking contrast to the 75 pounds per square inch of piranhas today. Its biting force was stronger than that of the Tyrannosaurus rex, compared with its size. The Tyrannosaurus rex had a bite strength three times that of the megapiranha, but it was also 100 times the size of the ancient fish. The megapiranha also had more strength in its bite than modern sharks and alligators.

The extraordinary biting ability of the megapiranha is linked to its amazing teeth. The teeth were serrated with circular roots, enabling them to tear through flesh easily and crush the shells and armor plates of other marine life.

Scientists believe that the megapiranha went extinct when its habitat, the combined Amazon and Parana basin of today, was separated by the Andes Mountain, limiting its food sources.

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