This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Word To Use Today: piranha.

Piranha - or, if you like, piraña - well, they're dead vicious. They can strip a cow to the bone in a couple of minutes, can't they?

The stories about the incredible ferocity of piranha were launched by a Brazilian stunt to impress the US President Theodore Roosevelt. It involved starving a lot of piranha for several days and then pushing a cow into the water.

True, the cow didn't last long; but then you only have to imagine a similar scene involving Homo sapiens and a pile of doughnuts for the piranha's behaviour to seem entirely reasonable.

Piranha live in rivers in the warm bits of South America, though (there being few limits to the stupidity of humans) they've been introduced to rivers in the United States of America, Bangladesh, and China, as well.

Now. Those teeth:

Piranha's teeth aren't used only for tearing large animals (including humans) to pieces. No. They're used by South Americans for making tools, and also by the piranha themselves for tearing small animals to pieces. This is why so many piranha have an eye missing (ew!). 

Piranha usually have no trouble finding things to eat because they're very good at sensing blood.

File:Souvenir piranha front.JPG
Photo by BrokenSphere

Now, in fairness to the fish I must point out that humans also eat piranha. Don't try to fish for them with a hook and line though. For a start the fish you've caught is likely to be eaten by the rest of the shoal before you can reel it in; and, secondly, it will be able to bite straight through the hook (if it's made of silver) and free itself anyway.

Having said all that, piranha do sometimes eat vegetables, seeds and fruits, especially when young. Which is more than many young humans do.

So there we are. Piranha are perfectly reasonable creatures whose name has been blackened by a publicity stunt, and swimming with piranha is...

...idiotic. Complete and total lunacy.

I'd stick with the creatures with the water wings and the budgie smugglers, if I were you.

Word To Use Today: piranha. This word comes to us from Portuguese, and before that from the Tupi pirá, fish, and sainha, tooth.
 Hint for use: something involving crowds and free cake?



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