Sep 072007
 
There’s a lovely little article in this week’s Nature about how moray eels eat their dinner (subscription required). Like nearly all fish, the moray has a second set of jaws in located in its throat, called pharyngeal jaws. The vast majority of fish use suction to transport food from the outer part of the mouth to the pharyngeal jaws. In morays, however, the suction is known to be weak, raising the question of how these particular predators manage to eat large prey. The answer, as it turns out, is a strange alternative mechanism: the pharyngeal jaws lunge forward to seize food in the moray’s mouth and pull it into the throat, as shown in the radiographs below (arrow indicates pharyngeal jaws).


This unique approach to the problem is a fascinating story in biological structures. I, however, could not help but be reminded of another organism that has a mouth inside its mouth:

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