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A Little Love for Piranhas I have no intention of seeing Piranha 3D.

I dislike films that vilify animalseven a species whose dagger teeth shear live things to shreds. I do not want to see a certain male body part . (1) at me in 3D. Nor do I wish to listen to lines . (2) The first bite draws blood. The blood draws the pack followed by a bikinied girl getting yanked under, Jaws style. Still, the film made me wonder about these ill-reputed creatures. Herewith, a piranha primer. Hunting isnt typically their thing. Though reputed as fierce predators, most piranhas timidly scavenge. Theyre the vultures of the Amazon, cleaning up the fleshy messes. They are also omnivorous, eating seeds and plants as well as meat. Big animals arent the usual target. Unless they . (3). starving, as is sometimes the case during the dry season in the Amazon when water levels drop, piranhas rarely attack a much larger animal (such as you), though bites and lost toes do occur, and blood in the water . (4) get them riled up. Its sometimes a piranha-eat-piranha world. During a feeding frenzy, piranhas sometimes tear each other .. (5) along with their intended prey. Then, cannibalism is common. Why waste fresh meat? Theyre good parentsat least initially. A mom may . (6) 600 eggs at once, dad promptly fertilizes them, and both parents guard the brood once it hatches. (Later, they might eat some of their young. But lets not focus on the negative.) Despite their scary looks, theyre actually cowards. Okay, thats a bit unfair, but studies . (7) shown that rather than congregating to hunt cooperatively, as was always believed, they join forces because theyre afraid of being eaten. Theyre especially likely to band togetherin schools as large as 1,000 fish at times of year when predators such as caimans and dolphins are regularly present. Apparently, theyve gotten the message (evolutionarily speaking) that theres safety in numbers even if you yourself have really sharp teeth. 24 U.S. states have outlawed keeping piranhas as pets. The main concern isnt the danger to human toes but that, if released into the wild, theyll become (8) and outcompete or kill native species. As they prefer warmer water, their survival would be most likely in southern states. Cold kills them. In states where piranha are legal to keep in aquariums, one particular species is a favorite. The redbellied piranha, Pygocentrus nattereri, has a rosy tummy and shimmering scales. Pretty! The species is also known (9) its aggression, which for some enthusiasts is the whole point (apparently, its fun to watch a big fish quickly turn live bait into a bloody pulp). Hollywood typecasts them. Piranhas have starred in at least four films, including Piranha 3D, all of (10) portray them as bloodthirsty man-eaters. Sample plot, courtesy of Doctor Baines has been conducting genetic experiments on piranhas and has made them virtually unstoppable (Roger Cormans Piranha). Theodore Roosevelt wasnt a fan. In his 1914 book Through the Brazilian Wilderness, the president described seeing starving piranhas devour a cow carcass (probably placed in the water by local fishermen to guarantee a show). He called piranhas the most ferocious fish in the world that will rend and devour alive any wounded man or beast; for blood in the water excites them to madness.

He further described the fish as the embodiment of evil ferocity; and the actions of the fish exactly match its looks. Later, he adds, The only redeeming feature about them is that they are themselves fairly good to eat, although with too many bones. Forrs: 1. a. to fly b. flying c. flew 2. a. like b. as c. though 3. a. are b. were c. are not 4. a. done b. do c. does 5. a. out b. up c. off 6. a. lain b. lie c. lay 7. a. have b. are c. had 8.

a. established b. establish c. establishing 9. a. as b. by c. for 10. a. that b. which c. what Megolds: 1. B 2. A 3. A 4. C 5. B 6. C 7. A 8. A 9. C 10. B

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