Common Name: Short-headed Lamprey

Scientific Name: Mordacai Mordax


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Cephalaspidomorphi

Order: Petromyzontiformes

Family: Mordaciidae

Genus: Mordacia

Species: M. Mordax



Their scientific name is known as Mordacia mordax.  Its kingdom is Animalia.  The phylum is Chordata.  The class of this animal is Cephalaspidomorphi.  Its order is Petromyzontiformes and it belongs to the family Mordaciidae.  The genus is the Mordacia.  The species is the M. Mordax.


In the earlier times, lampreys are considered a delicacy!  This animal report will be about lampreys.  This lamprey is short-headed, eel-shaped.  The lampreys have seven gill openings, a circular sucking mouth with lots of teeth on the lower side of the head.  Its eyes are on top of its head!  They’re usually whitish in color but they turn into blue green, their belly has a silver white color.  Additionally, Lampreys are excellent swimmers!


The short-headed lamprey, Mordacia mordax, also known as the Australian lamprey and the Murray lamprey, are species of lamprey that occurs in south-eastern Australia. It has a thin eel-like body up to 50 cm long, with two low dorsal fins on the back half. The skin is blue-gray or brown. Its eyes are small, and located on the top of its head.


These Cephalaspidomorphi (lampreys) are inclined to adapt and live both in fresh and salty water.  Their habitats are in the holes of the ocean.  All lampreys are born in fresh water but they will migrate to salt water as soon as they reach the maturing age.  Adult short-headed lampreys live at sea and are parasites on other fish. They breed in fresh water, however, migrating up streams.  Lampreys can be found in the body of waters from different continents or countries such as in Southeastern Australia, Europe, Asia and the North America.  The ammocoetes (lamprey larvae) remain in fresh water until metamorphosis, usually migrating to the sea around three to four years after hatching.  It is interesting to find out however, despite the female lampreys’ ability to release from thousands to hundred thousand of eggs, their population and conservation stats are unknown. There’s no record of their number of population or conservation statistics.  Even the short-headed Lamprey population that exploded in the Great Lakes, IL their conservation is also unknown.   Since their population or conservation statistics are unknown their population could be shrinking.  A lot of factors can contribute to their stagnant population such as the fact that some species their life span don’t really last long.  They die from exhaustion and weakening.  Their outer skin degenerates too.  Also, a lot of them were eaten by fish during their migration so there is a great loss in their population.  As far as their presence here in the U.S. it has become a serious damage to the fishes.  So there is a great work to decrease their population by setting up electrical traps or barriers and even poison them. 


Short-headed Lamprey feed on muscle, blood and body fluids of fish-- ocean fish that spawn in fresh water. They attach to the fish until either the fish or the lamprey itself dies.  The lamprey larvae are filter feeders; they strain back all the big particles with their cilia and cough out those large organisms.  Their food during their maturation stages are small organisms such as diatoms and detritus.  Diatoms or detritus are microscopic cells floating near the sea surface.  For those matured lampreys their food are mostly fishes like cod, smelt, salmon, herring, flounder and carrion.  The most common water inhabitants they compete with food are the fishes, whales and others.  Their predators are us humans.  Some people like to eat them for lunch or dinner.  In the earlier times, lampreys are considered a delicacy.  They are much desired in the fall season because that’s the time when they are not feeding with muds but they’re very expensive around this time.  It is interesting to know that the Europeans eat lampreys with red wine and leeks.  They also say that whoever has eaten lampreys knows how tasty they can be!  Today lampreys are roasted and canned.  However, in the U.S. lampreys are not consumed by people but they are used for fertilizing.


The short-headed Lamprey also known as Mordacia mordax is a kind of animal.  It is a very interesting kind of animal just by its appearance alone.  This eel-like animal even though it is a kind of fish lacks scales and has nine eyes. They are also growing up to 40 inches long.  Their feeding ritual is very unique.  It is sad that their population seem to decrease.  I learned that the first lamprey caught here in the United States is in the state of Michigan in 1921.  Reading about lampreys stirred an interest in me to learn more about them and I hope to be able to see a live lamprey in the future.  Or even to have a taste of a canned lamprey.


Author: Elijah L

Published: 02/2014



The Evolution of Jawless Fishes by E. Thenius