Friday, 28 June 2013

'Vampire' sea lampreys heat up for sex

By Ella Davies,  Reporter, BBC Nature

Male sea lampreys heat up special fat deposits during sexual encounters, scientists have found.

The bizarre vertebrates are best known for their blood-sucking mouths filled with teeth and a razor sharp tongue.

Males also have a raised bump of tissue along their back which they rub against females during courtship.

US researchers discovered that this tissue generates heat in the presence of ovulating females, and heats up more for some than others.

The team from the University of Michigan, US, published their results in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Sea lampreys are parasitic animals found in the North Atlantic Ocean. The jawless vertebrates look similar to eels and adults can measure over 45cm in length.

Researchers first began to investigate the males' bump, referred to as "rope tissue" by biologists, after observing how it was used in courtship dances.

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