There aren’t all that many jawless fishes roaming the seas nowadays. One of them, the eel-like lamprey (Petromyzon), has a highly multifunctional, circular mouth with several rows of tiny, sharp teeth. The lamprey uses it to attach itself to rocks so as to stay in one place, or to hitch a ride on the hull of a ship, sometimes slowing it down significantly. The sucker-mouth can also be used to pick up rocks and arrange them in a neat circle within which the eggs can be deposited. Most notably, however, it uses its mouth to attach itself to other fishes, pierce their skin, and suck their blood.
This blood-sucking habit, along with its somewhat horrifying appearance, has for a long time given it the reputation of being an evil creature. It is not immediately clear why it should be more evil than, say, a leech, though its size may play a role. Marine lampreys can easily reach lengths of 1 metre or more (the ancient Greek geographer Strabo even reports lampreys of the unlikely length of three metres), and attacks by a lamprey often result in the death of its victim, which is left to bleed out. This reminded me of something that has been bothering me for some time – why are horror movies so uncreative when it comes to fishes? It’s mostly sharks or piranhas eating people. Wouldn’t lampreys make for the perfect horror fish? I was delighted to find that I’m not the only one to have though of this: The 2014 movie Blood Lake, Attack of the Killer Lampreys (trailer) features a host of the creepy buggers gruesomely maiming and killing people.
Please don’t get your hopes up too much though, the movie is awful. This is a pity. I therefore propose to make a new movie, featuring a 3 metre long lamprey. I already have a title: Jawless.