Lampreys are an ancient extant lineage of jawless fish with different species often found globally in many types of waterways. Mostly found in freshwater rivers and lakes, they can often mistakenly be called lamprey eels. Adults resemble eels in that they have scaleless, elongated bodies, and can range from 13 to 100 cm (5-40 inches) in length. However, lampreys have large eyes, one nostril, seven gill pores on each side of their head, and a toothed, funnel like sucking mouth. While they prefer fish, there are some historical accounts of lamprey attacks on humans.

Lampreys have long been used as food for humans. They were highly appreciated by the ancient Romans. During the Middle Ages, they were widely eaten by the upper classes throughout Europe, especially during Lent. This was because of their rich, meaty taste and texture.

King Henry I of England is said to have been so fond of lampreys that he often ate them late into life against the advice of his physician concerning their richness. In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II's coronation pie was made by the Royal Air Force using lampreys.

In many parts of Europe lamprey is routinely sold in supermarkets as larger lampreys are still a highly prized delicacy. Native Americans, and some Asian countries still have annual lamprey hunts as their food is highly prized.

More Info: