At a glance, you might think that lampreys are a type of eel or a huge leech.
But they’re actually neither!
Their long, tubular bodies hold everything a fish needs to be… well… a fish!
They’re more similar to sharks than eels, thanks to their cartilage-based skeleton, which is different from the more rigid bones found in a typical fish.
Lampreys have large eyes, dorsal fins, and a set of gills on each side of their body. These gills allow them to filter oxygen as they glide through the water while attached to their prey.
While large eyes and dorsal fins may sound like typical characteristics of a fish, the moment you get a look at their mouth, things get a lot less familiar.
Lampreys are jawless fish.
Instead of having a mouth that hinges open and closed to clamp down on or chew food, they have a folding, circular mouth that opens up to look like a suction cup!
But unlike a soft and squishy suction cup, their mouths are filled with row after row of sharp hooked teeth.
Instead of taking bites of their food, lampreys simply attach to a fish using their teeth, then suck their tasty insides out while hitching a ride.
While this might sound like a strange pattern of eating, it’s very effective.
A single lamprey can kill up to of 240 pounds of fish in its 6-year life span!
Because of their fish-consuming proficiency, lampreys are considered to be an active threat to a range of freshwater and saltwater environments.