Do Piranhas Really Eat People?

If you were to fall into the Amazon River, are you doomed to be torn apart and eaten by piranhas? Piranhas can be pretty ferocious, and we've all seen those demonstrations where a meaty bone is offered to a school of piranhas and they go to town, churning the water until it's bloody. Teddy Roosevelt wrote about piranhas in his 1914 book Through the Brazilian Wilderness, describing how they consumed an entire cow before his eyes during his South American safari, and would likely do the same to a human. That's how the idea of piranhas as dangerous man-eaters got started, and we have plenty of gory movies to show for it. A century of research has raised questions about that demonstration, but the piranha became a terrifying symbol of the dangers of the Amazon just the same. Learn about piranhas and the danger they pose in this this TED-Ed lesson.   

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As a boomer I grew up watching old Tarzan movies on the tv so I believed that quicksand would always kill you if you had no giant vine to grab onto to pull yourself out of it and that piranhas would absolutely kill you if you fell into a river by the jungle.
I did find out that quicksand wasn't as deadly as I thought (and hoped) it was when my brother got stuck in it on our creek at the back of our property and did not slowly sink down and under with just an upthrust hand sticking out of it. Cheated, again!
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In what is a very weird coincidence, I HAVE fallen into the Amazon River. Thankfully was not eaten by piranhas.
I was on a small Expedition ship with like 200 other passengers, going from Manaus to Iquitos. There were lots of zodiac excursions, where the zodiacs were lowered from the main ship to explore the Amazon closer in groups of 8-10. Was with a tight group of friends/coworkers, including the ship staff member who was driving our zodiac. Putting along, looking at the sites and shoreline, sitting on the edge of the zodiac... and the driver guns it and does a 90 degree turn. Took me completely by surprise and in the split second it took me to realize what was going on I had already leaned back too far from the hard 90 degree turn that I was out of hand reach of anything to save me. So... I rolled right into the Amazon. Friends being friends, they all laughed really hard while pointing at me. And then they drove off up a tributary and left me treading water. Came back about 10 minutes later. Although the entire event was funny... what was beneath the surface that I couldn't see freaked me out then and every time I think of it. I did fish for, and caught, a piranha on that trip. Thankfully not while I was the potential bait.
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