Found in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River; Northern and Western Atlantic Ocean.
Hi there, sucker! The lamprey is born blind and toothless, and lives up to seven years at the bottom of the river before emerging fully formed: with a fearful ring of sharp teeth on a mouth that may be wider than its head, ready to attach and feed off of other fish, including paddlefish, sharks and rays. Lampreys are parasites, and use their suction-cup mouth to suck blood from their prey, leaving gruesome scars and eventually killing them as a result of blood loss or infection. Adults can grow up to 120cm long and weigh up to 2.3 kg. They are anadromous, meaning they migrate from lake or sea habitats to rivers to lay eggs. They are also a pest in the Great Lakes Region in the United States, posing a threat to fish that previously haven’t had to contend with lampreys as predators. Although the lamprey looks like an eel, it is actually a species of primitive, scale-less fish that can be considered a “living fossil”: lampreys belong to the Cyclostomata class, also known as the most ancient group of vertebrates, which have been around for over 360 million years.