Sea lamprey showing mouth suckers

Lampreys

Lampreys are a very ancient and primitive group of jawless vertebrates. Rare fossil remains from over 300 million years ago strongly suggest that today's lampreys have changed little over this time. Most species of lamprey are parasites and have long, eel-like bodies that lack scales. They use their jawless mouths to attach to a host fish by suction before sucking out the living tissues. There are nearly 50 species of lamprey, most of whom spend their lives out at sea and return to freshwater only to spawn.

Scientific name: Cephalaspidomorphi

Rank: Class

Explore this group

Habitats

The following habitats are found across the Lampreys distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Behaviours

Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Classification

  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Lampreys

BBC News about Lampreys

Elsewhere on the BBC

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.