Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Alien Eel?

Dallas: [looks at a pen being dissolved by alien's blood] I haven't seen anything like that except, uh, molecular acid.
Brett: It must be using it for blood.
Parker: It's got a wonderful defense mechanism. You don't dare kill it.
-from the movie Alien
If you saw the movie Alien (and then Aliens, 2, 3, etc) you may remember that the monster had a double set of jaws. Inside her mouth of very sharp teeth there was a second mouth with yet more teeth. What an amazing imagination of the monster designer! Or was it imagination?

The moray eel has a second set of jaws in its throat that can launch forwards, like the movie Alien. It bites prey with the first set, and then pulls them in with the second set.


(Image from a clever site called Nature Wants to Eat You which features the jaws of many odd creatures.)

Researchers had to use high speed photography to capture these internal jaws in action. These natural forceps dart forward faster than a blink to seize the flesh of their prey and pull it down the gullet. Just like the movie. And yet the eel jaws are a recent discovery so the monster designer deserves credit for imagining something long before it was discovered in real life.

Bottom Line
Truth is stranger than fiction! (or at least as strange)

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