Scientists long thought the Electric eels found in swamps, streams, creeks and rivers across South America were all the same species.
But when scientists analyzed 107 samples, they found that the three species had different genetic material, unique skull shapes, and different levels of voltage.
Based on their research, de Santana and his team believe that the three species began to evolve from their common ancestor about 7.1 million years ago.
Electrophorus voltai, for instance, lived in the clear waters of the highlands which did not conduct electricity well.
According to de Santana, the species' stronger voltage may be an adaption to the poor conductivity of the water.
These electric eels -- which are actually a type of fish with an eel-like appearance -- can grow to up to eight feet (2.4 meters) and highlight how much is yet to be discovered in the Amazon rainforest, study leader David de Santana, a research associate at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, said in a press release.
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