In an episode of Today I Found Out, host Simon Whistler reveals the truth about how dangerous piranhas are, and also explains how President Teddy Roosevelt helped skew the truth about the toothy fish for generations. Although still potentially harmful to humans and animals, piranhas are far from the cartoonish eating machines often depicted in popular culture.
Alongside sharks, crocodiles and that fish people incorrectly believe can swim up a stream of urine if you pee in the Amazon, piranhas are amongst the most feared aquatic creatures on Earth. This is mostly due to the popularly held idea that a large and hungry enough shoal of piranhas could reduce you to nothing more than a skeleton in a matter of moments- an idea that, as it turns out, isn’t without precedent, but most certainly doesn’t tell the whole story about whether piranhas are actually dangerous to humans. (And, incidentally, if you live in the U.S., you are nearly four times as likely to be killed by a vending machine as a shark, with an average annual death rate of 2.18 for vending machines and 0.6 deaths from shark attacks.)