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Lamprey Mouth
"Kiss me!"

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. Common in horror, where it may convey Eldritch Abomination implications.

Does not cover insect-like mandibles. Often a subtrope of More Teeth than the Osmond Family. A common feature of sandworms, and an occasional Cthulhumanoid may sport one. See also Nested Mouths.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • The USBM from Bio Meat: Nectar.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert on at least two occasions. First there was a coworker named Floyd Remora who attached himself to Dilbert's back and fed off his success. The Pointy-Haired Boss briefly hired a sycophant with a deformed lamprey-like mouth.

    Comics 

    Film 
  • In Predator films, 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.
  • Star Wars
    • The Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi has the look, particularly in the original edition before extra tentacles and maws were added in digitally.
    • The Mynocks in The Empire Strikes Back used these to attach to ships.
  • The "Driller" from Transformers: Dark of the Moon has a lamprey-like mouth on its main body and several of its appendages.
  • In The Cabin in the Woods The Ballerina Dentata / 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 Men In Black II.
  • A couple of creatures from Evolution (a carnivorous "tree" and a large green bug) have mouths like this.
  • The Reapers from Blade II film double up on this trope, having one set of lamprey mouth teeth on their tongues and another set surrounding them.
  • A many-limbed critter screams straight into the camera with one of these in Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon and the TV spinoff, the Whispering Death is a breed of dragon with this kind of mouth.

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • Taxxons from Animorphs have these.
  • Sandworms from Frank Herbert's Dune series have massive ones.
    • Pieces of their teeth are used as blades by the Fremen, calling them crysknives.
  • David Drake's The Lord of the Isles features one of these at one point. It's a magical creation made entirely of wood.
  • In Iron Council, the many-armed creature that menaces Hiddentown has a lamprey mouth on the end of each tentacle.
    • In the previous novel The Scar, the magical statuette used by Silas Fennec has a lamprey mouth.
  • The Chtorran worms in The War Against the Chtorr. Their teeth encircle their mouth, curving inwards to draw the prey into their body. Once they've taken a bite, they can't stop or they'll choke to death.
  • In Petty Pewter Gods, one of the trio of double-ugly thugs in the Godoroth pantheon has a mouth like this.
  • The Edge Chronicles has logworms.

    Live Action Television 
  • The X-Files: Flukeman had a lamprey mouth that incorporated features of a tapeworm's scolex.
    • Ironically, flukes are in the class Trematoda and don't have a scolex (they hang on to their host with one or two muscular suckers). Scully identified the parasite she found inside the Russian sailor as a "Turbellaria"... which is, in fact, a flatworm, but they don't have a scolex either! The only flatworms that have a scolex are tapeworms, which are in the class Cestoda. As Phil Farrand, author of "The Nitpicker's Guide for X-Philes" might point out, "Tapeman" doesn't sound nearly as cool as "Flukeman". This was hardly the only fluke in this episode, but the Nitpicker's Guide is a more appropriate place for those.
  • 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 by Predator. 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.
  • The Lebensaugers from Grimm.
  • The Hellbugs from Defiance.
  • Mr. Sweet from Doctor Who episode "The Crimson Horror".
  • The giant pre-Cambrian worms from Primeval had this sort of mouth, most apparent when one's head is pinned under a photocopier's plate and a bunch of copies of its maw are printed out.

    Pinball 

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
    • Kopru had mouths like this in their original illustration from the adventure X1: Isle of Dread.

    Toys 
  • The action figure of Mantenna from Masters of the Universe. The original toy had a lamprey mouth, although for the cartoons Mantenna was given a watered down, more goofy and less menacing look.
  • Sea Squids from BIONICLE, but Depending on the Artist, they may be shown with "regular" mouths.
    • Also from Bionicle, the Visorak (again, depending on the artist), whose teeth come in the form of overlapping circular saws.

    Video Games 
  • Land worms, recurring monsters from the Final Fantasy series, have this.
  • The Pokémon 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.
  • A couple in the Resident Evil games:
  • Deepstalkers from Dragon Age: Origins are small, poison-spitting dinosaurs that utilize this trope.
  • Barnacles from the Half-Life series, combined with Nested Mouths in Half-Life 2
  • Promos for the Defiance online game feature a giant monster with a lamprey mouth on the top of its body.
  • Brütal Legend has the Lamprey boss, though the mouth is shaped more like a vagina.

    Western Animation 
  • 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 mouths and reveal rings upon rings of churning, mechanical teeth.
  • In Futurama's story "Bender's Game", the Tunneling Horror has a lamprey mouth in which concentric rings of teeth rotate in opposite directions.

    Real Life 
  • 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, and functions, instead, more like an anchor.
  • Velvet Worms have teeth arranged in this format.
  • Leeches have a watered-down version of these. Still good enough for blood-sucking, though.
  • Sea urchins have teeth arranged in a ring on their undersides, although they're blunt grinding teeth rather than pointed.
  • The cookie-cutter shark, while it has actual jaws, shifts them into a position resembling this in order to bite perfectly round chunks of flesh from its prey.
  • Anomalocaris, largest predator of the Burgess Shale fauna, had a tough constricting ring for a mouth, lined with bony prongs.

Identification By Dental RecordsTeeth TropesMan Bites Man
Jaw DropMouthful Of IndexManiac Tongue
Kill It with WaterBizarre Alien BiologyLiving Polyhedron
Kill 'em AllHorror TropesLet's Split Up, Gang

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