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Lamprey

Family: Petromyzontidae

Lampreys are primitive fishes that spend their two-phase life cycles in streams and lakes in New York. These fish are easily recognized: they are jawless, elongate, lack scales, lack paired fins, and have seven pairs of gill openings. The larval state is spent as filter-feeding ammocoetes, with eyes covered with skin and no teeth, in sand or silt beds in streams. Adults metamorphose and emerge with functioning eyes and teeth in a disc-shaped mouth and migrate to lakes or the ocean. Lampreys are found at higher latitudes in both the southern and northern hemispheres. Six species occur in New York, but none are found statewide. At least one species of lamprey is present in all New York drainages. All are native. Three species are parasitic as adults; the other three, known as brook lampreys, do not feed as adults. Three species have small ranges in the state and are rare.

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