We've all seen a Lamprey Mouth
before: a ring- or funnel-shaped mouth with many sharp, inward-pointing teeth. Rather than being embedded in horizontal (or vertical
) jaws, teeth completely encircle the oral cavity. Extreme examples may also come with an outer set of spike-tipped appendages to draw food into the mouth, like a spider's pedipalps: a sensible addition for a mouth that often can't be closed. In fiction, this feature is often a trait of monstrous characters, and may offer a convenient visual shorthand implying that a creature is a parasite of some kind.
On film, it's often a makeup technique used to make Humanoid Aliens
of the rubber forehead variety
appear more alien by suggesting Bizarre Alien Biology
through its outward appearance. Such an orifice could also appear on a radically non-humanoid creature.
Does not cover insect-like mandibles. Often a subtrope of More Teeth than the Osmond Family
. A common feature of sandworms
Anime & Manga
- Deltora Quest has flesh-eating plants known as Grippers. From above, they appear to be small ferns, or clumps of grass. However, buried underground, they have a huge, funnel-like mouth, with rows of sharp teeth. When unsuspecting prey walk over the top of them, the ground parts as they open their mouths, and the prey falls in to be eaten.
- In Bleach, Aaroniero Arrururie's Zanpakuto looks like a mutant sea anemone with such a mouth. When he goes One-Winged Angel, we can see that his gigantic octopus-like lower body has a gargantuan Lamprey Mouth complete with rows of teeth in the middle of his body.
- The angel Sandalphon from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- In Predator, the alien hunters have the pedipalps, although the mouth beneath them isn't actually ring-shaped.
- In Dreamcatcher, the worm-creatures' mouths resemble a lamprey's that's been folded Vagina Dentata-style. As do the controlling aliens' entire upper bodies.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the Kraken has a mouth like this, with a full ring of multi-jointed pedipalps surrounding it.
- The Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi has the look, particularly in the original edition before extra tentacles and maws were added in digitally.
- In The Cabin in the Woods The Ballerina/Sugar Plum Fairy's entire face is one of these.
- The creature Kirk runs away from in the rebooted Star Trek on the icy world he's marooned on would probably qualify.
- The mechanical shark from James and the Giant Peach would count.
- The Carnictus worms from the remake of King Kong had mouths like this.
- The subway worm from MIIB.
- A couple of creatures from Evolution (a carnivorous "tree" and a large green bug) have mouths like this.
- The X-Files: Flukeman had a Lamprey Mouth that incorporated features of a tapeworm's scolex.
- Earth 2: The Terrians had this trait, too.
- The Salt Vampire◊ in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Man Trap" has one of these.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation and other modern Trek series have the Nausicaans, who have appeared in every series except the original series and were inspired byPredator. Their mouth-structures are a slightly more humanoid version of this trope.
- Star Trek: Voyager episode "Nemesis" featured the very similar-looking but even more pronounced example in the Kradin.
- Blake's 7: The worm-like giant predatory creatures on Terminal which Vila referred to figuratively as "snakes" had mouths like this.
- The leviathan from Supernatural have mouths like this.
- Also from Supernatural, "The Kids are Alright" (3x02) the Changeling has this type of mouth.
- Older editions of D&D depicted the purple worm with this sort of mouth.
- The otyugh is a monster with a mouth on its torso, and some depictions give it this type of mouth.
- The action figure of Mantenna from He Man and She-Ra. The original toy had a lamprey mouth, although for the cartoons Mantenna was given a watered down, more goofy and less menacing look.
- Land worms, recurring monsters from the Final Fantasy series, have this.
- The Pokemon evolution line Tynamo, Eelektrik and Eelektross. While Tynamo looks like a leech, its evolutions Eelektrik and Eelektross resemble lampreys and they mainly attack by discharging electricity while attaching to their victim with their Lamprey Mouth.
- Spore allows for creatures to be made with Lamprey Mouths.
- * The squid from Minecraft has one of these. It's much toothier than would be realistically expected, although the squid itself is completely harmless.
- In the Power Puff Girls episode "The Headsucker's Moxy", the girls fight "the Robbing Leech" (a pun on Robin Leach) who uses his Lamprey Mouth to suck knowledge from peoples' brains in order to steal things. He's defeated after he tries this on The Mayor of Townsville, whose brain is a more perfect vacuum than the Leech's.
- Scraplets from Transformers Prime, essentially metal eating flying piranhas. They look cute until they see metal, then they open their mouth and reveal rings upon rings of churning, mechanical teeth.
- Found in lampreys, obviously.
- Also in some extinct fish taxa, before jaws evolved and proved to be more efficient for most feeding strategies.
- Subverted by the tapeworm's scolex, which only looks like a mouth.
- Sea urchins have teeth arranged in a ring on their undersides, although they're blunt grinding teeth rather than pointed.
- Anomalocaris, largest predator of the Burgess Shale fauna, had a tough constricting ring for a mouth, lined with bony prongs.