The Double Life of the Bloodsucking Sea Lamprey

Michigan State University has several labs dedicated to the study and control of lampreys, which make for idiosyncratic subjects. Lamprey skeletons are constructed of cartilage rather than bone, and they can regenerate fully functional spinal cords even after they’ve been sliced in half. They possess an incredible olfactory power, capable of detecting scents at extremely low concentrations—the equivalent of being able to locate a few grains of salt in an Olympic-size swimming pool, according to Anne Scott, an MSU professor. Native populations live in salt water, then swim to inland tributaries to breed and die, like a parasitic salmon. Lamprey species have lived on Earth for hundreds of millions

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