European brook lamprey
The European brook lamprey (Lampetra planeri, also known as the Brook lamprey and the Western brook lamprey) is a small European lamprey species that exclusively inhabits freshwater. This species should not be confused with the North American species Lampetra richardsoni, which is also called the Western brook lamprey.
This lamprey is the most common of the northern European species and is also the smallest. Adult brook lamprey measure from 12-14 cm. The very elongate body is dark blue or greenish above, lightening to yellowish off-white on the sides and pure white below. Like all lampreys they lack paired fins and possess a circular sucking disc instead of jaws. They have a single nostril and seven gill openings on either side.
Although they are found in small streams, as their name suggests, they are also found in larger rivers throughout northern Europe as well as southern France, Italy, Sardinia, the Balkans and the upper reaches of the Volga. It is also found in southeast Alaska.
Unlike most species of lamprey, the adults do not migrate to the sea and do not have a parasitic phase. Adult brook lamprey do not feed and in springtime spawn in gravel close to the soft sediment in which they were previously resident. Adult brook lamprey spawn in small groups and die soon after spawning. The eggs hatch within a few days, after which the young larvae bury themselves in soft sediment with only the mouth protruding. The young lampreys are blind filter feeders, feeding on detritus and other organic matter for three to five years before maturing. Metamorphosis begins in the third or fourth year and is complete after the maturation of the gonads. Eyes and suction disk also develops during this time, while the intestinal tract degenerates and loses its function. The full transformation can take up to a year.
- Animal, Smithsonian Institution, 2005
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