There are times when life imitates art. Then there are times when life imitates science fiction.
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Rita Mehta/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images (jawbones and radiographs)
DUAL ACTION Morays have two sets of jaws, one for an initial bite and one mostly for pulling prey into the throat.
VideoMore Video » One of the most famous monsters in film history is the extraterrestrial beast of the “Alien” series. It slowly opened its glistening fangs to reveal a second set of jaws that shot forward to kill its victims.
Scientists have now discovered a fish that does the same thing.
Morays belong to a group called ray-finned fishes that includes a vast majority of fish species, like tuna, goldfish, salmon and trout. Most ray-finned fish use suction to eat. To catch prey, they suddenly expand their mouth cavity. The negative water pressure sucks in the prey.
Dr. Mehta rigged up a high-speed video camera that could peer into the mouth of a feeding moray. “When we got the movies, we sat and stared in disbelief,” Dr. Wainwright said.
The movies showed that when morays lunge for prey, they first grab it with the teeth on their front jaws. The pharyngeal jaws then shoot forward out of the eel’s throat, into the mouth, and snap down on the prey.
The eel can then open its front jaws, releasing the prey, while the pharyngeal jaws move back down into the throat, dragging the food with them.
you HAVE to watch the video.....and look at the X-rays.....it's nuts