The arapaima, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish, was discovered in the Amazon river basin by Amazonians. This fish can reach three meters in length and weigh 200 kilograms (440 pounds). It can stay out of the water for a day and breathes air, and it can survive in water with low oxygen levels. It eats fish, birds, lizards, and other small animals. With its toothy tongue, it can smash them. According to researchers, this evolutionary marvel has an even better trick: its scales, which have been compared to a bullet-proof vest, protect it from piranha attacks. Their durable but adaptable properties have even caught the attention of the US Air Force.

The arapaima is a Terminator-like animal with one fatal flaw: it’s excellent to eat. It’s known as pirarucu in the Amazon and is also called “The Amazon Cod” because of its firm white flesh and few bones. The fish is popular among natives and sophisticated diners in some of Brazil’s most populous cities. The arapaima population began to decline in the 1990s as a result of overfishing. At the time, there were precautions in place to prohibit arapaima fishing. On the other hand, illegal fishing continued, resulting in the extinction of the species in parts of the Amazon. Thanks to the efforts of environmentalists and local communities over the last two decades, this is no longer the situation.