Guideline River Monsters Season 1 Episode 5 : Amazon Assassins

In the darkest depths of the Amazon lurks a dinosaur. Legends tell of an evil spirit inhabiting an enormous fish. Taller than a man, it is covered in scales and crushes its prey with a tongue made of bone. Jeremy Wade encounters the legendary arapaima.

Arapaima gigas

Maximum Length: Up to 10 feet
Maximum Weight: Over 400 pounds

A Living Fossil Fish: The arapaima is a true prehistoric river monster, with the fossil record showing that it has roamed the waters of the Amazon River since the Jurassic age. This massive fish — the largest fish in the world's largest river — has long inspired the imagination of local Amazonian people. According to legend, Pirarucu, the disrespectful and taunting son of an Amazon chief, was struck down to the depths of the river by the gods. He became the arapaima, and Brazilians still refer to the fish as Pirarucu.

Dinosaur of the Deep: This air breathing, scaled, "dinosaur of the deep" is naturally predatory and will eat any fish that crosses its path, as well as birds floating on the water. The Arapaima uses its bony tongue to crush prey against the roof of its mouth before swallowing. It's unclear whether the fish's aggression extends to humans, but it is established fact that this enormous creature can — and will — jump high out of the water when trapped or netted. This behavior makes it plausible to imagine a fisherman being struck and knocked unconscious by a frantic arapaima.

Jeremy Wade's Tips for Catching Arapaima: "If (an arapaima) makes a big splash when surfacing, you've already spooked it. It wants to get back down quickly. Sometimes just a canoe paddled across the lake is enough. So you're looking for fish quietly bulging at the surface, then putting your bait where you've located them."

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