This week in “internet freaks out wtf is that an animal for real or what?” comes this a lovely water creature out of New Jersey, caught by a fisherman earlier this month in the Raritan River. According to the International Science Times, it is a disgusting New Jersey river Sea Monster. That’s seems a little harsh to me, though we cannot deny that is one scary, terrible maw.
Anyway. What we know is that these are not the monsters from Tremors. Those are (obviously) sandworms, not sea monsters. More likely it has ancestry with the sock puppet from which Han and the gang escape in the asteroid field while dodging the Empire:
Even more likely, though, is that it is a lamprey. The lamprey has a row of seven gills running just behind it’s eye. Which is a dead giveaway for the Jersey variety.
As far as the animal kingdom goes, the lamprey is crazy and a bit terrifying, especially for a a young Minnesota boy whose first encounter is ice-fishing with this uncle, who drops his arm into the hole and pulls it out with a lamprey wrapped around his forearm. Blech. Even if that was the Minnesota native Silver Lamprey, a much smaller variety, it was still terrifying.
The lamprey will always be a natural fit for overblown headlines about disgusting monster-dom. Not helped by the fact that some of them feed by attaching their suction cup mouth to a host, chewing through the skin with the teeth and sucking out the blood and fluids. But really, they are just ancient creatures of the water, vertebrate non-fish held over from a bygone age.
It will scare the shit out of you in a wonderful display of evolutionary brilliance. Wildlife is so awesome.