Moray Eels Have Alien Jaws!

I’m watching one of the semi-gruesome nature shows all the rage these days, and a guy tells the story about how a moray eel – those angry-looking saltwater eels that live in coral – he was feeding thumb-sized bits of food to bit off his…thumb. Go figure.

Anyhow, it’s how the thing bit off his thumb that got me. Turns out moray eels have a second set of jaws that shoot forward from the throat into the eel’s mouth, clamp down on whatever the food item is, and retract back. That’s right out of the movie Alien! Crazy!

At rest, the pharyngeal jaws sit behind the eel’s skull. When they reach forward, they move almost the length of the animal’s skull, but do not protrude beyond the powerful outer jaws. The arrangement means that if the eel can sink in a few teeth to hold its prey, it can secure its meal with the pharyngeal jaws, the researchers note.
(quote from here)

I gotta admit, thought it was pretty cool. The weird part I thought was the guy getting one of his big toes attached as his missing thumb.

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