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Candirus (Vandellia) inhabit the Amazon and Orinoco basins of lowland Amazonia, where they constitute part of the Neotropical fish fauna.
American biologist Eugene Willis Gudger noted the area the patients were from did not have candiru in its rivers, and suggested the amputations were much more likely the result of having been attacked by piranha.The body is translucent, making it quite difficult to spot in the turbid waters of its home.There are short sensory barbels around the head, together with short, backward pointing spines on the gill covers.Samad gave him photos, the original VHS tape of the cystoscopy procedure, and the actual fish's body preserved in formalin as his donation to the INPA.Spotte and his colleague Paulo Petry took these materials and examined them at the INPA, comparing them with Samad's formal paper.
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Although lurid anecdotes of attacks on humans abound, very few cases have been verified, and some alleged traits of the fish have been discredited as myth or superstition. von Martius in 1829, who never actually observed it, but rather was told about it by the native people of the area, including that men would tie a ligature around their penis while going into the river to prevent this from happening.