Join 3,503 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


When a fish makes you shout and freak the fuck out, that's a moray.
February 22, 2008 7:22 PM   Subscribe

You know how the exomorphs in Alien had a second jaw that reached out and bit you while they were biting you with their regular jaws? Moray eels have that. Just thought you should know.

The pharyngeal jaw is used for swallowing--it swings forward, grabs the food that's in the eel's mouth, then pulls it back down the throat. Check out the fourth link for cool x-rays and diagrams.
posted by agentofselection (80 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, ok, but if there isn't any water in your spaceship you're safe.
Right?
posted by Dizzy at 7:25 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well hello, nightmare fuel.
posted by puke & cry at 7:25 PM on February 22, 2008 [10 favorites]


Yet another reason why I do not live near the ocean. *shudder*
posted by amyms at 7:27 PM on February 22, 2008


My father likes to tell the story about the time he accidentally stumbled upon a moray eel, jaws perched, while scuba diving off Midway Island in the Pacific. By the way he tells the story, it was the most terrifying encounter he's ever had that didn't involve his time as a repo man in Buffalo.
posted by dhammond at 7:39 PM on February 22, 2008 [6 favorites]


***pulls out shotgun***

I like to keep this handy for close encounters.
posted by Rangeboy at 7:41 PM on February 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


Morays are like the coolest thing to see under the ocean. Well besides octopuses.
posted by CrazyJoel at 7:41 PM on February 22, 2008


That's because moray eels are from fucking Satan.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:45 PM on February 22, 2008 [12 favorites]


There's one of these in the aquarium in the cafeteria where I work.

I am definitely going to have to kill it now.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:46 PM on February 22, 2008 [12 favorites]


So, dirigibleman, you're saying they're children of the devil?
posted by winston at 7:51 PM on February 22, 2008


I'm pretty sure our tax system was modeled on this.
Or maybe it was convergent evolution.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:52 PM on February 22, 2008 [6 favorites]


can't sleep can't sleep can't sleep
posted by middleclasstool at 7:55 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


"We had no idea how moray eels were able to swallow prey before this study."

Assuming that a moray eel had been discected and studied at some point before this study, I wonder what it was about the second set of spring-loaded jaws in the eels stomach that didn't make this immediately clear.
posted by itchylick at 7:57 PM on February 22, 2008


Choppy meter notwithstanding... Best. Title. Ever.
posted by sappidus at 7:59 PM on February 22, 2008 [27 favorites]


So...the morays? They live in water?

Shit. And here I was with all the loving of the indoor plumbing. Now all I know is that there's a monster in there waiting to bite my manberries off. Twice.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:01 PM on February 22, 2008


Pharyngeal jaws are previously known, and so they probably just assumed they were there to continue chewing the food, or to help to swallow with peristalsis. It's the fact that these jaws can reach forward and pull back that's so unexpected and cool.
posted by agentofselection at 8:02 PM on February 22, 2008


Well sure, but it doesn't have a beak and tentacles with teeth in them, so it's really not so bad.
posted by The World Famous at 8:02 PM on February 22, 2008


When an eel lunges out,
And it bites off your snout,
Thaaats A Morrray!
posted by Balisong at 8:02 PM on February 22, 2008 [14 favorites]


One of the most "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING!?!?!" moments in my TV watching career was a scene where members of the Cousteau Expedition hand fed incipient pieces of sushi to a Moray eel. I mean, if your giving food to a wild animal on land, if it decides to bite a chunk off of your hand you can, at least, howl in pain without drowning.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:03 PM on February 22, 2008


Ditto title. Aslo: eponysterical.
posted by lalochezia at 8:12 PM on February 22, 2008


time to bust it out:

DO NOT WANT
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 8:18 PM on February 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


My dad grew up in Hawaii. Once, when he was about 10, he was out nightfishing on the reef with his brothers. He stepped into a hole in the coral, and a moray eel bit him, on the back of his foot between his heel and his ankle. It was hanging on, teeth sunk into the flesh in front of his Achilles tendon.

His brothers dragged him, screaming, back to the beach. They killed the eel, but even dead, it wouldn't let go. They had to cut the body away from the head, and pry the jaws open.

Still and all, my dad loved taking me to the beach. And I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau when I grew up.
posted by rtha at 8:19 PM on February 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


this is why we've never seen a video of dick cheney eating
posted by pyramid termite at 8:20 PM on February 22, 2008 [25 favorites]


Moray eels had it first. Plus two vowels at the beginning of their name. Bad ass.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:20 PM on February 22, 2008


oh, and the comments on the last link are HI-LARIOUS


So, do you know of any creatures that have acid for blood?

Posted by: H. Humbert | September 6, 2007 4:21 PM
#2

"So, do you know of any creatures that have acid for blood?"
Ann Coulter?
I think I'd take my chances snogging the moray eel.

Posted by: MartinC | September 6, 2007 4:26 PM
#3

Tis the work of the devil.

Posted by: Reginald Selkirk | September 6, 2007 4:26 PM

posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 8:21 PM on February 22, 2008


Yeah I was thinking that too itchylick. Whoa, those pharyngeal jaws. Definitely a good metaphor for the tax system weapons-grade pandemonium. Or double whammy vagina dentata, a cthulu pussy relative.
posted by nickyskye at 8:26 PM on February 22, 2008


This is great.
posted by Floach at 8:26 PM on February 22, 2008


moray eels are tired from fucking Satan.

FTFY
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:30 PM on February 22, 2008


What do you expect them to use? Harsh language?
posted by brundlefly at 8:37 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought this was a dupe, but apparently I was just remembering bringing this up in a thread on Barry Bonds for some reason.
posted by delmoi at 8:40 PM on February 22, 2008


Once, when he was about 10, he was out nightfishing on the ...

Ok. Just stop right there.

this is why we've never seen a video of dick cheney eating

Maybe he just doesn't like cotton.
posted by odinsdream at 8:45 PM on February 22, 2008



I thought this was a dupe, but apparently I was just remembering bringing this up in a thread on Barry Bonds for some reason.
posted by delmoi at 8:40 PM on February 22 [+] [!]


LOL'd!
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 8:47 PM on February 22, 2008


“Gnathic transport” is my new favorite phrase. Maybe I'll start a band.
posted by hattifattener at 8:50 PM on February 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure our tax system was modeled on this.

You know, I'm not sure which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 9:05 PM on February 22, 2008 [5 favorites]


The only thing that would be cooler than this would be sharks that could shoot lasers from their eyes.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:10 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sure DARPA is working on it.
posted by Tenuki at 9:20 PM on February 22, 2008


Eel is pretty tasty (well unagi and anago are.) I've never had Moray.
posted by gen at 9:28 PM on February 22, 2008


They mostly come out at night. Mostly.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:29 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh good, now I won't be able to sleep tonight. Yay for nightmares involving double-jawed deep sea creatures!
posted by phaded at 9:34 PM on February 22, 2008


Ghorrman, you always were an asshole. ::grenadehug::
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:38 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shit. Thought it was a Dean Martin thread. Where the hell are my reading glasses?
posted by bigskyguy at 9:41 PM on February 22, 2008


If there's two sets of jaws
To get food in its maw--
Atsa moray!
posted by faceonmars at 10:42 PM on February 22, 2008


Scary. I vote for nuking it from orbit.
posted by notmydesk at 11:04 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lethal poetry: pharyngeal, raptorial jaws and gnathic transport of apex predators. Pterygoid teeth and pterygoid walk are tools along similar lines. I didn't realise that other fish have pharyngeal teeth as well (but not pharyngeal jaws).

In looking up videos of morays, there's one described as "Moray Eel Attacks Scuba Diver! A scuba diver is attacked and gets his thumb bitten off and eaten by a giant Moray Eel! Filmed". I couldn't watch it, but presume those pharyngeal jaws were put to good use. Atsa moray indeed.
posted by nickyskye at 11:05 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's still not as fucked up as the parasite that eats a fish's tongue and then becomes the fish's tongue *shudder*
posted by cecilkorik at 11:09 PM on February 22, 2008 [9 favorites]


Look, morays are cute and smart and I won't hear a word against them. Anyone who's looked at their goofy, old guy with with a twinkle in his eye faces knows that. This just proves how wonderful they are.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:24 PM on February 22, 2008


Ooh, had to have a look at that shuddersome parasite, Cymothoa exigua. That's a moray. Divers playing way too close to those pharyngeal jaws.
posted by nickyskye at 11:46 PM on February 22, 2008 [7 favorites]


*giggles at above*

Moray eels are yet another animal that I will only consider cool so long as there is 0.00% chance of it managing to bite a piece of me off.
posted by Salmonberry at 12:14 AM on February 23, 2008


cecilkorik writes "That's still not as fucked up as the parasite that eats a fish's tongue and then becomes the fish's tongue *shudder*"

That is way more creepy than a moray. Morays aren't likely to bite unless threatened, which usually happens by accident if it involves people. But that parasite thing has legs. No matter how functional it may be as a tongue, it has legs. Lots of them. The picture nickyskye posted is unreal. Makes me queasy just thinking about what it would be like to be that fish. Damn.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:43 AM on February 23, 2008


Whoa ... what's everyone staring at me for?
posted by krinklyfig at 12:53 AM on February 23, 2008


Exomorphs?

I thought the Aliens were called Xenomorphs.

This is important, somehow.
posted by ELF Radio at 1:22 AM on February 23, 2008


When a fish makes you shout and freak the fuck out, that's a moray.

Best title ever man
posted by poppo at 2:41 AM on February 23, 2008


I admire its purity.
posted by paddbear at 2:48 AM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


See those beady eyes gleamin' and then you start screamin', signore...
When those jaws like a vise chomp your tackle off twice,
That's a morayyyy!
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:53 AM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


That is the weirdest derail attempt I've seen in some time. I really didn't know how to flag it, in fact didn't know whether to flag or favorite it.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:08 AM on February 23, 2008


I think it's better with pictures: Amore, Odd-Fish TruFax II.
posted by scruss at 5:16 AM on February 23, 2008


I used to keep a small moray eel in an aquarium, and I never noticed this. I was missing out on the best feature! Kinda like the porcupinefish I kept who never puffed up because of the relaxed environment.
posted by Tullius at 5:28 AM on February 23, 2008


That thumb bite video was awesome, nickyskye! By far the best part is afterwards it shows the guy 1 year later and he got a toe grafted onto his thumb stump in Bangkok! It works!
posted by kickback at 5:34 AM on February 23, 2008


[I have no idea what all that shit was but it's gone now.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:38 AM on February 23, 2008


hey, anyone have a tabbed record of the livelurker derail attempt? i only got to see it post-modded... (i think???)

but, you know... its like seeing tire marks leading up to a wall or something, and i'm pro-rubberneck
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 6:40 AM on February 23, 2008


all that mod work, and i'm like "who can re-print verbatim it for me?"

sorry jess ;)
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 6:42 AM on February 23, 2008


XENOmorph. Xeno, like my name, and morph, like I'll morph you but good.

Some mod please take off and nuke that error from orbit, please? It's going to irrationally anger me all day and I'm liable to take out a continent just from tetchiness.

Also, this is how Kiera Knightley's jaws work.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:53 AM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I take it I'm one of the few people in this thread who saw The Deep.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:17 AM on February 23, 2008


The next morning, more research. Ah, realize now that other fish, like the carp and other cyprinids, not only have pharyngeal teeth but also pharyngeal jaws in their throats. The amazing difference with the moray is, as agentofselection said: "It's the fact that these jaws can reach forward and pull back that's so unexpected and cool."

Thanks kickback for the happy ending, oops a pun, to the moray bites thumb off story.
posted by nickyskye at 7:30 AM on February 23, 2008


There are insects that produce acid as a defense mechanism. Let's hope that they never get it on with a moray.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:43 AM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's hope they don't breed with snakefish.
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:07 AM on February 23, 2008


What is that movie where the alien says "I'm going to eat you," and then his inner jaw pops out and says "I'm going to eat you too?" Because that shit's HILARIOUS.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:55 AM on February 23, 2008


Get away from her you BITCH!!!
posted by matty at 10:27 AM on February 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


What's that thing in the reef
With pharyngeal teef?
It's a moray!

Stick your hand in the crack
And you won't get it back,
It's a moray!
posted by darkstar at 10:39 AM on February 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


I thought the Aliens were called Xenomorphs.
And you were right. I couldn't quite remember the correct prefix, and was too lazy to google it. Exo=outside (kind of like alien? maybe?) and xeno=strange. So, yeah, yours is right and makes way more sense.
posted by agentofselection at 11:24 AM on February 23, 2008


augh
posted by tehloki at 5:26 PM on February 23, 2008


I was at the Shedd aquarium earlier this week and I was admiring one of their giant reef type tanks when the lady next to me started taking some flash photos (despite all the signs advising against this). A moment or so later, a large part of the back wall of the tank detached itself and the bit of coral we had been looking at turned out to actually be a good sized moray.

The flash had obviously interested or irritated it, but either way it suddenly got very curious about the lady.

And despite the four inches of lexan between her and it (not to mention the complete absence of water around her), she damn near ran out of the room when the thing started reacting to her.

I liked morays before reading this, now they are just that much cooler.
posted by quin at 5:46 PM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's still not as fucked up as the parasite that eats a fish's tongue and then becomes the fish's tongue *shudder*"

That's seriously the most fucked-up thing in the history of fucked. I quit. I don't want to play anymore.
posted by Bookhouse at 6:25 PM on February 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


scientists say the creature does not pose any threat to humans and only attaches itself to fish tongues

Rex Hunt saved by Science!
posted by flabdablet at 3:58 AM on February 24, 2008


they're pretty! i agree with crazyJoel.
posted by snofoam at 6:17 AM on February 24, 2008


"Morays are capable of inflicting serious wounds to humans."

"In the December 2006 issue of the journal, Public Library of Science Biology, a team of biologists announced the discovery of interspecies cooperative hunting involving morays."

"Morays are shy and secretive, and they only attack humans in self-defense. Morays hide from humans and would rather flee than fight."
posted by weston at 3:22 PM on February 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Back when I was a teen, I used to go spear fishing with my younger brother. We used to clean up the fish we caught (de-scale, clean up the guts) at the bottom of a cliff where we knew there were moray eels.

After throwing the fish guts back in the water, we sometimes waited for the monsters to come out, then try to catch one. We always worked as a tag team: one of us would shoot near the head, and the other would aim for the other end. That way we could hold both spears away from each other, stretching the eel and avoid a bite while we cut off the head.

I remember vividly one instance when the eel we caught bit onto another fish we had cleaned up. The eel was dying, and still wouldn't let go. In the end, we had to smash its jaws to recover the fish.

Back then, we used to think that curved, razor-sharp teeth and very strong (outer) jaws was all we had to fear. That, and my dad's anger, who hated having to peel off the skin in order to eat the eel.
posted by jgbustos at 10:33 AM on February 25, 2008


When the sea's full of dread
He lays dreaming, not dead,
That's IA IA CTHULHU FTAGHN ::gouges out eyes, dives into ocean::
posted by FatherDagon at 1:42 PM on February 25, 2008


When we were diving in the North Red Sea at night, my divemaster was this big fat happy Egyptian named Sameh. Easily over 200 pounds, I was amazed at how fast he could get in and out of his wetsuit.

Anyway, it's a night dive, and if you think 20 foot moray eels are scary by day, wait until you see one just chilling near some coral, head rocking slowly with the current, slowly turning its neck so it can keep one of those ghostly eyes fixed on you at all times.

Sameh just fins right on by, maybe three feet from the eel, taking a moment to casually point it out with his flashlight.

O o E

I know that the eel really doesn't want to eat me and I'm being a giant wimp, but I couldn't help myself.

o O E
posted by onalark at 11:28 PM on February 27, 2008


Lovely title, BTW.
posted by Artw at 12:05 AM on February 29, 2008


What is that movie where the alien says "I'm going to eat you," and then his inner jaw pops out and says "I'm going to eat you too?" Because that shit's HILARIOUS.
posted by Astro Zombie


Is this family guy clip what you were talking about? a little late, sorry.
posted by sambosambo at 12:37 PM on March 4, 2008


« Older Missouri's digital archives of African American po...  |  Who knew when Arnel Pineda, le... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments