Skip to main content
Select Source:

lamprey

lamprey, name for several primitive marine and freshwater jawless fishes of the order Petromyzontiformes. As in the other jawless fish, the hagfish, the adult lamprey retains the notochord, the supporting structure that in higher vertebrates is found only in the embryo. An ancient fish that still resembles fossils that are 360 million years old, the lamprey lacks a sympathetic nervous system, a spleen, and scales.

The adult lampreys of some species are parasitic, sucking the blood of other fishes. The horny teeth, set in the circular, jawless mouth, attach to the prey and the lamprey feeds as it is carried along. Lampreys have an anticoagulant in the saliva that keeps the blood of the victim fluid. The parasitic sea, or Atlantic, lamprey, Petromyzon marinus, found on both sides of the Atlantic, has become well established in the Great Lakes, where it is considered a serious pest by the fishing industry. Many freshwater lampreys are not parasitic.

Lampreys resemble eels in external appearance and, although not related to the true eels, are sometimes called lamprey eels. When not attached to prey, they swim with undulating movements. The marine lampreys normally migrate into freshwater to spawn, and some populations have become landlocked in freshwater.

The sexes are separate in lampreys and fertilization is external. The parents die shortly after the eggs are deposited in a nest. The larvae, called ammocoetes, are about 1/4 in. (6 mm) long. They are transparent, eyeless filter-feeders and live in muddy river bottoms, eating particles of organic matter. Ammocoetes are used in zoology courses to demonstrate a theoretically primitive vertebrate construction. At about five years of age they metamorphose into the adult form. In some species the adult does not feed and remains the size of the larva.

Lampreys are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Hyperoartia, order Petromyzontiformes.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"lamprey." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"lamprey." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lamprey

"lamprey." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lamprey

lamprey

lam·prey / ˈlamprē/ • n. (pl. -eys) an eellike aquatic jawless vertebrate (family Petromyzonidae) that has a sucker mouth with horny teeth and a rasping tongue. The adult is often parasitic, attaching itself to other fish and sucking their blood.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"lamprey." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"lamprey." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lamprey-1

"lamprey." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lamprey-1

lamprey

lamprey XIII. —OF. lampreie (mod. lamproie) :- medL. lamprēda (whence also OE. lamprede); poss. alt. of lampetra, expl. as f. lambere lick- + petra stone (with allusion to the lamprey attaching itself to stones). Cf. LIMPET.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"lamprey." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"lamprey." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lamprey-2

"lamprey." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lamprey-2

lamprey

lamprey Eel-like, jawless vertebrate found in marine and fresh waters on both sides of the Atlantic. It feeds by attaching its mouth to fish and sucking their blood. Length: to 91cm (3ft). Family Petromyzondiae.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"lamprey." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"lamprey." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lamprey

"lamprey." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lamprey

lamprey

lamprey a surfeit of this as a food fish is traditionally said to have caused the death of Henry I, according to a contemporary account quoted by Fabyan's New Chronicles of England and France (1516).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"lamprey." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"lamprey." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lamprey

"lamprey." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lamprey

lamprey

lamprey Cartilaginous fish resembling eels; sea lamprey is Petromyzon marinus, river lamprey or lampern is Lampetra fluviatilis.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"lamprey." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"lamprey." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lamprey

"lamprey." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lamprey

lamprey

lamprey See AMMOCOETE; PETROMYZONIDAE.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"lamprey." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"lamprey." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lamprey

"lamprey." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lamprey

lamprey

lampreyBarry, Carrie, carry, Cary, Clarrie, Gary, glengarry, harry, intermarry, Larry, marry, miscarry, parry, tarry •angry • chapelry • cavalry • lamprey •Crabtree •gantry, pantry •Langtry • polyandry •askari, Bari, Cagliari, calamari, Campari, charivari, curare, Ferrari, Harare, Kalahari, Mari, Mata Hari, Qatari, Rastafari, safari, sari, Scutari, shikari, sparry, starry, Stradivari, tamari, terramare, Vasari, Zanzibari •compadre • chantry •beriberi, berry, bury, Ceri, cherry, Derry, ferry, Gerry, jerry, Kerry, merry, perry, Pondicherry, sherry, terry, very, wherry •débris • Hendry • Geoffrey • belfry •devilry, revelry •Henri, henry •peltry •entry, gentry, sentry •pedantry •peasantry, pheasantry, pleasantry •vestry • every • elderberry •checkerberry • whortleberry •chokecherry • daredevilry •Londonderry • knobkerrie

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"lamprey." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"lamprey." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lamprey-0

"lamprey." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lamprey-0