We’re Only Just Starting To Understand The Miracle Of Hagfish Slime
by Robert T. Gonzalez
The incredible properties of hagfish slime have fascinated scientists for decades, but researchers are only just beginning to make sense of this mucilaginous secretion. In doing so, they hope to create superfibers that could one day be used in everything from bullet-proof vests to artificial tendons.
The hagfish is not a looker. The eel – to which the hagfish is not directly related but often compared, on account of its elongated body – is an attractive animal, by comparison. When I look at a hagfish, the phrase “naked zombie-skin tubesock” inevitably comes to mind.
Apart from being aggressively ugly, the hagfish is widely known for being an evolutionarily ancient fish that has changed very little over the last 300-million years (a fact that could explain why it’s the only animal known to have a skull but no backbone), its repulsive feeding habits, and for its ability to exude a fibrous slime from its body when it is agitated or threatened…
(read more: io9 - BioMimicry)
images from the Vancouver Aquarium