Posted by: shoji | September 17, 2007

Pharyngeal jaws: moray eel Part II (video)

My most popular post has thus far been on “Pharyngeal Jaws“, based on research published in the prestigious journal Nature.

I remember watching a video on Metacafe of a moray eel attack from months ago. In it, a diver “plays” with a moray eel, which he lures using bait suspiciously similar to Polly-O String Cheese. Unfortunately for the diver, the moray eel mistakes the diver’s left thumb for Polly-O and takes it for lunch. The gore is a bit hidden as the camera person goes to help his fellow diver, but the sound of an underwater scream and subsequent “pop” of thumb coming off is gory enough for me.

Now, thanks to rigorous scientific research, we can understand how the pharyngeal jaws were able to generate sufficient force to pull the thumb off the diver.

The subsequent surgical reconstruction of the left hand is quite amazing. Surgeons perform a toe-graft operation where they “harvest” the left second toe to replace the thumb. In it’s opposable glory, we see the diver able to use the left thumb/toe to play video games and carry a bottle of beer.

Unfortunately, I could only find this shorter version.


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