Monday January 17, 2011

This ancient jawless fish is seeing for the first time after recently metamorphosing to resemble its more familiar adult form. Juvenile Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentate) begin life appearing more like a worm than a fish. As larval lampreys or “ammocoetes” they lack eyes and fins, and spend 5-7 years buried tail first in the river substrate, filter feeding by mouth. Once they reach a length of around 14-16 cm they begin a radical change in physiology and physical appearance. They become silvery, and develop long dorsal fins, large eyes, and a strong sucking mouth with lateral tooth plates. The newly transformed lamprey swim downstream to the ocean where they will begin a novel life as marine predators. Check out our previous Pacific Lamprey post for additional photos and life history information.
Photo source: FISHBIO

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