Alien Eel: Moray Eels Have Two Pairs of Jaws

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Alongside sharks, moray eels are among the most feared fish in the ocean.

They possess strong, flesh-tearing jaws that are capable of cutting through bone. And, if that wasn’t enough, moray eels have another deadly weapon in their arsenal: the pharyngeal jaw.

Pharyngeal jaws are a “second set” of jaws located within moray eels’ throats. When a moray eel captures prey with its primary jaws, it can use its secondary pharyngeal jaws to grab the prey and drag it down into its gullet for easy swallowing.

Eel double jaw mechanism

The jaws look pretty out of this world.

Pharyngeal_jaws_of_moray_eels-Illustration-by-Zina-Deretsky-National-Science-Foundation
Pharyngeal jaws of moray eels. Illustration by Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation.

They use these jaws to capture prey like venomous fish.

For more information about moray eels and pharyngeal jaws, watch Smithsonian’s video below:

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