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Lamprey Mouth

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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 occur in conjunction with Flower Mouth. 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.

A common feature of Sand Worms or an Ant Lion Monster, and an occasional Cthulhumanoid may sport one. Does not cover insect-like mandibles.

Often overlaps with More Teeth than the Osmond Family. Sub-Trope to Monster Mouth.



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    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, being essentially a monstrous version of an Anomalocaris, has this kind of mouth.
  • The USBM from Bio Meat: Nectar.
  • Shalltear's true form in Overlord has a mouth like this with a single row of sharp fangs and a long protruding tongue. One bandit even calls her a lamprey.
  • A pretty common type of maw for the monstrous shapeshifters of Parasyte to bite peoples' heads off with.
  • Oddman 11: Seigi is a Humanoid Abomination who looks like a middle school-aged girl but can turn into a monstrous form for attacking people. At one point she's depicted with a lamprey-like maw that takes up most of her face.

    Comic Books 
  • Skull Island: The Birth of Kong: In this MonsterVerse graphic novel, the Swamp Locust's mouth is just a fang-studded giant ringlet with more sharp teeth inside the maw, including phosphate incisors.

  • Superman villain Parasite has a mouth like this in some depictions.
  • The Sandlings in White Sand have round mouth full of several rings of inwards-pointing teeth.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): The scavenger worms on Hope's End, which are designed as a shout out to the Sarlacc, have round mouths ringed with rows of sharp teeth and a set of fourteen crab-like arms each ending in a single claw reaching out to grasp at food from just behind their "lips".

    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.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane: The aliens revealed at the very end of the film are, or just use for hunting, large, scaly dog-like creatures with these instead of heads.
  • 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.
  • In The Cabin in the Woods The Ballerina Dentata / Sugar Plum Fairy's entire face is one of these.
  • Coneheads: Beldar is revealed as having this during a dental exam.
  • Deep Rising: The monster, a giant mutant cephalopod, has a main mouth that is just a giant opening littered with numerous backwards-facing teeth.
  • 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.
  • The sand worms in both adaptations of Dune are depicted this way. The 1984 one has pedipalps parting to reveal a ring-shaped, saw-toothed maw, and that example has influenced most of the following Sand Worm designs. The latter removed the pedipalps, because the director wanted symbolism that "when you look into a worm's mouth, it looks like an eye. It has this feeling of the presence of a god."
  • A couple of creatures from Evolution (a carnivorous "tree" and a large green bug) have mouths like this.
  • Apophis in Gods of Egypt has a truly gargantuan one.
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: The were-worms have five fleshy tooth-tipped protrusions in a ring around an inner circle of teeth.
  • The mechanical shark from James and the Giant Peach would count.
  • The Carnictus worms from King Kong (2005) that eat the cook had mouths like this.
  • Jeff, the subway worm from Men in Black II.
  • 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.
  • In Predator films, the alien hunters have the pedipalps, although the mouth beneath them isn't actually ring-shaped.
  • A many-limbed critter screams straight into the camera with one of these in Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.
  • Star Trek (2009): The creature Kirk runs away from on the icy world he's marooned on would probably qualify.
  • Star Wars
    • The Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi has the look, particularly in the original edition before extra tentacles and a maw were added in digitally.
    • The Mynocks in The Empire Strikes Back used these to attach to ships.
    • The Force Awakens continues the tradition of using this trope, in this case for the rathtars.
    • As a circle lined with several thin triangles on the inside, the First Order's logo resembles a lamprey mouth. This is fitting for how aggressive and murderous they are.
  • The "Driller" from Transformers: Dark of the Moon has a lamprey-like mouth on its main body and several of its appendages.

  • 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, arranged in three large "jaws" that can open wide to swallow entire Spice Harvesters.
    • Pieces of their teeth are used as blades by the Fremen, who call 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.
  • One species of needle monsters in Eden Green has a long neck ending in a lamprey mouth, which they use to pick up and shred humans.
  • Round mouths are the norm for animal life on Longtunnel, a cave-dominated world from the Humanx Commonwealth 'Verse. Naturally, that means that most of its predators have a Lamprey Mouth, although spore-feeders and some insectivores avert this by having no teeth.
  • Chaugnar Faughn, one of Frank Belknap Long's contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos, has an elephant's trunk that ends in one of these.
  • Deeplight: Post-transformation Jelt's secondary mouth is conical, lined with many rows of teeth, and lunges out to grab prey.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The "Bathing Beauty" teaser for American Horror Story: Roanoke features a woman looking into a bathtub, only for her head to turn around and reveal this in place of her face.
  • Blake's 7: The worm-like giant predatory creatures on Terminal which Vila referred to figuratively as "snakes" had mouths like this.
  • The Hellbugs from Defiance.
  • Mr. Sweet from Doctor Who episode "The Crimson Horror". Also true of the Mire from "The Girl Who Died".
  • Earth 2: The Terrians had this trait, too.
  • The Lebensaugers from Grimm.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • On Stranger Things, the mouth of a Demogorgon has both an inner tooth-ringed gullet and five encircling petal-like flaps lined with teeth that can close over it. The Demogods also have this.
  • Supernatural: In "The Kids are Alright" (3x02), the Changelings, creatures who impersonate stolen children and feed on the human mother's blood at night, have this kind of mouth in their true form for feeding.
  • 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.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Older editions depict the purple worm with this sort of mouth, although later ones shift to a more typical pair of hinged jaws.
    • The otyugh is a monster with a mouth on its torso, and some depictions give it this type of mouth.
    • The thessalhydra is a very strange critter with a gaping Lamprey Mouth surrounded by a bunch of conventional hydra heads. Its clamp-like tail picks up victims and stuffs them into the former.
    • Kopru had mouths like this in their original illustration from the adventure X1: Isle of Dread.
    • Mind flayers, also known as illithids, sport a circular mouth of this sort, although it's usually hidden by their facial tentacles.
  • Rogue Trader: Sand tigers are sand-dwelling predators with circular, jawless mouths lined with backward-pointing fangs.
  • Shadowrun's rockworm, an Awakened concrete-eating giant earthworm, is depicted with this sort of mouth.

  • 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, but Depending on the Artist, they may be shown with "regular" mouths.
    • The Visorak (again, depending on the artist), whose teeth come in the form of overlapping circular saws.

    Video Games 
  • Japanese horror game Gloomy Room features a monster with (among other surreal biological deviations) one of these in the bathroom at the beginning of the game. It only appears if the player takes too long to complete the puzzle to escape the room, in a scene that plays along beautifully with Mirror Scare.
  • 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 has the "Leeyotch", "Gnathognasher" and "Saginaughty" mouth parts which vaguely resemble the mouths of lampreys and other animals with radial, jawless 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.
  • Awesomenauts has the Entins, who, despite otherwise being space caterpillars, sport these mouths.
    • It also features more traditional Sand Worms on planet Sorona.
  • The Crawlers from Sundered have gaping ring-shaped mouths full of sharp white teeth in their center of mass. This mouth is normally concealed under the Crawler’s robes and tentacles, but becomes visible whenever it lunges at the player character.
  • The Pols Voice from The Legend of Zelda were already plenty creepy enough for their sheer "otherness", being a limbless, bloblike creature with a few recognizably lagomorphic features like long ears and whiskers. Their 3-D appearance in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass ups the creepiness by revealing that their entire underside consists of a huge mouth filled with sharp, concentric teeth.
  • The Great Serpent of Ronka, from Final Fantasy XIV, is a tiny little Tsuchinoko, and therefore has one of these. It's never seen eating, just wriggling and screeing adorably.

    Visual Novels 
  • Under her ratty long hair, it's revealed that the Urashima Woman from Spirit Hunter: NG has a giant lamprey-like mouth, with multiple sets of teeth beneath the first circle of them. This emphasizes her connection to the lake and her death by drowning.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Powerpuff 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.
  • Futurama:
    • In the story "Bender's Game", the Tunneling Horror has a lamprey mouth in which concentric rings of teeth rotate in opposite directions.
    • Leela's father, a mutant, has a normal-shaped mouth but teeth arranged in a ring.
    • The shape-shifting predator from "Murder on the Planet Express" gobbles its victims whole with an extensible example of this trope.
  • In The ChubbChubbs!, the eponymous chubb-chubbs have these. They also rotate like sawblades.

    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. It and its relatives are classified as Order Radiodonta, meaning "encircling-toothed".
  • Leatherback sea turtle's mouth has teeth over all the buccal wall.