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A 29-year-old man was fishing when his canoe turned over and his body submerged. The body was recovered 48 h later by riverbank inhabitants. Calophysus macropterus (also known as piracatinga, vulture catfish, or zamurito) were recovered from under his clothes, probably because they are the most common fish species of the cadaverous ichthyofauna in the Madeira River.

Fig.1 The victim.

Many victims of drowning in the Amazon region, particularly in the river, are not recovered, either because of the vastness of the river or because they are devoured by carnivorous or scavenging fish. Members of the Cetopsidae family are known to riverside populations as carrion-eating fish, and attacks on bodies found submerged in the waters of the Madeira River are attributed to them. They have ravenous eating habits and attack not only carrion but also fish caught on hooks and in waiting nets, differing only in their attack and feeding strategies.

Fig.2 Calophysus macropterus with a near-maximum adult size and barbels protruding from the mouth that serve as taste sensors.

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