Vampire fish measuring a foot in length have been falling from the sky in Alaska, baffling Fairbanks residents.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) said it had received a number of calls about arctic lamprey being found in "strange locations".
One dropped from the sky into a car park, while another landed on a resident's lawn. In total four were found in a very short space of time.
The fishy rain was even more unusual because lamprey are rarely seen in waters around Fairbanks.
Lampreys are known as vampire fish because of their weird-looking jawless mouths that are lined with rows of teeth – the creatures use these teeth to attach themselves to their prey then cut through the surface tissue until they reach the blood and body fluids.
Arctic lampreys grow to around 15 inches and are identified from other species by their two large teeth on the supraoral bar. Very little is known of them or lampreys in general and adults die soon after egg fertilisation.
Commenting on the mystery appearance of the arctic lampreys, ADF&G said in a statement: "This past week the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in Fairbanks, received calls about arctic lamprey found in strange locations.
"The local Value Village store found a live lamprey in their parking lot and placed it in a bucket of water. Another resident called and said he found one on his lawn! Four lamprey were found on land so far.
"How is this happening? The answer is probably gulls. Gulls are picking them out of the Chena River with their bills and then dropping the squirming critters while in flight."
The department said bruising and cut marks suggests the fish had been squeezed between the bill of a gull.
"Arctic lampreys spawn in the Chena River, and live in the mud underwater as juveniles for several years," it added. "However, many lifelong Alaskans have never seen one of these fascinating fish up close because their body shape and feeding habits make them difficult to catch."
ADF&G asked that if residents see any more lampreys falling from the sky, to contact them so biologists can study them in further detail.