Nov 2, 2011

Be careful what you ask for


A commentor on the Hagfish Day post lamented that the photos of this animal never did it justice. I think we may have finally gotten one, don't you agree?

That photo accompanied the announcement of some research out of New Zealand: researchers have filmed for the first time how the hagfish uses its slime to defend itself. You can see how the attacking shark's mouth is filled with a cloud of slime almost instantaneously, and it leaves in disgust:


Other footage gathered by the scientists showed that hagfish, usually thought of as scavengers, are pretty nasty predators too. Yes, as we've noted before, they swim inside of carcasses and eat their way out, actually absorbing nutrients through their skin. But they also hunt, using those retracting dental plates in the photo to grab and start swallowing prey, then waiting for it to die before they finish. They might use their slime to suffocate it to hurry the process along, too.

The researchers also found that hunting technique also explains another curious hagfish ability: it can tie itself in a knot. One thing this behavior does is help give the hagfish leverage when pulling prey from a burrow. (Check out the pictures here.)

Join me in saluting the brave souls who can spend enough time with hagfish to discover all those astonishingly repulsive facts.

-Wombat (No Relation)

6 comments:

Adorably Dead said...

I saw that pic on Reddit. At first I thought it was a leech, neat to know what it actually is though. But ew all the same.

Anonymous said...

Can you say "vagina dentata"?

Psychotime said...

The way the shark immediately spit it out and started coughing was pretty hilarious. I wonder how long he's gonna have that taste in his mouth.

hydrolagus said...

Extra bonus for the hagfish: it looks like the predators not only dropped it but also left the scene, leaving the whole bait bag to the hagfish.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the aliens from the movies "Dreamcatcher" and "The Hidden".

Jill @ office space manila said...

that was quite amusing,looks like a lamprey to me..