In a scene akin to a horror movie, Australian scientists have discovered that when swallowed by predators, snake eels are sometimes able to burst through their captor's stomach.
Unfortunately for the snake eel, their unique escape mechanism does not send them to freedom, but traps them to be eventually mummified in the gut cavity of their captors.
Scientists from Northern Territory Fisheries, CSIRO Australian National Fish Collection, Queensland Museum, and Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory have recently published the first account of this bizarre process involving snake eels in northern Australian waters.
Snake eels have a hard pointed tail tip that allows them to rapidly reverse into the soft sandy seabed, and the study has found when swallowed whole by predatory fishes, the eels are sometimes able to burst through the predator's stomach wall tail first, only be to trapped and eventually mummified.
Seven species of snake eels were found in the body cavities of a total of 11 species of predatory fishes from various localities, indicating that the process is widespread and involves a diverse range of species.
Co-author and Queensland Museum Ichthyologist, Jeff Johnson, said that embedded snake eels are often mistaken for large parasitic worms and that remains of these eels had occasionally been brought into the Queensland Museum for identification by curious fishermen.
- courtesy North West Star, Mount Isa.