Cadaveric ichthyofauna of the Madeira River in the Amazon basin: the myth of man-eating piranhas

Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2020 Jun;16(2):345-351. doi: 10.1007/s12024-020-00221-8. Epub 2020 Apr 8.


Drowned bodies rescued from the rivers of the Amazon basin exhibit several artefacts caused by the actions of the cadaveric ichthyofauna, namely, the "candiru". This study aims to review and discuss the fish species responsible for the largest number of attacks on bodies in the Madeira River (Porto Velho - Rondônia, Brazil), to describe the feeding strategies and types of lesions caused by each species, and to demystify the myth of the "man-eating piranhas". To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first that aims to provide a systematic analysis of cadaveric ichthyofauna and forensic findings in this region.

Keywords: Cadaveric ichthyofauna; Calophysus macropterus; Cetopsis candiru; Cetopsis coecutiens; Piranha; Pygocentrus nattereri; Serrasalmus rhombeus.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Artifacts
  • Body Remains*
  • Brazil
  • Catfishes* / anatomy & histology
  • Drowning
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rivers*