A Year Of Snot-oozing, Carcass-scavenging, Slime Eels: Hagfish Science In 2017.

Hagfish. You love them. I really like them. :

Photo courtesy Oregon State Police.

2017 was a big season for hagfish science fiction.

Big Thoughts (the ecologic paradigms that hagfish shifted) 

Heincke’s legislation is just one of these ecologic principles that more frequently acts as a foil for rejecting the null hypothesis than just as a constant pattern in ecology. It is most basic outline is: The further from beach and the deeper house a bass is, the larger it grows. Heincke’s legislation doesn’t appear to be accurate for hagfish, whose size appear to have no connection to the depth where they occur. On the other hand, phylogenetic associations do appear to play a role in regulating body size in hagfish.

  • Schumacher and friends (2017) . DOI: 10.1111/jfb.13361.

Defense and Behaviour (how hagfish do exactly the things that they do)

Hagfish are master escape artists, so capable of squeezing in and out of tight spaces hardly half of the width of their physique. This great for getting in an out of decaying whale carcasses on the sea floor, creeping into cracks, and avoiding predators. But how can they achieve this unbelievable feat? Hagfish have a flaccid sinus under their skin that allows them to control the supply of venous blood and also alter their body thickness as they float through narrow passages. Freedman and Fudge identified 9 distinct behaviors which take advantage of this adaptation, including anchoring, forming tight pliers to push the body through an opening, and flexing the hagfish head 90 degrees to force it through a slit.

  • Freedman and Fudge (2017) . DOI: 10.1242/jeb.151233.

The Fudge lab was busy this season, cranking out a few of the most notable work about the extraordinary behavior of hagfish. In addition to analyzing hagfish motility, both Boggett and friends looked into just how those flaccid sinuses aid predator avoidance. The group construct wee little guillotines filled with shark teeth find out hagfish skin protects the animal from vicious snacks. In a year when a truckload of hagfish spectacularly crushed a car, the simple fact that this study was the greatest breakout feeling in hagfish pop culture says all you will need to learn about the compelling results of this study. You can read more about this research in, , , and tons of other outlets.

  • Boggett and friends (2017) . DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2017.0765.

Biogeography (hagfish and also their place in the world)

Not a enormous surprise, but hagfish are more genetically distinct than you could think.

  • Kase and friends (2017) . DOI: 10.1266/ggs.17-00004.

Hagfish are absent from the waters around India, however, it turns out we may just not have been searching hard enough. It is pretty likely that 2018 will welcome in a new species of hagfish from Indian waters.

  • Fernholm and friends (2017) . DOI: 10.11609/jott.2526.9.6.10365-10368.

Physiology (how hagfish work)

Hagfish have… immersive feeding behaviours. They do not just consume. They absorb nutrient through their skin and gills. Pause. Have a moment. Let that sink in.

Back? That’s pretty wild, right? Hagfish consume, even when they’re just frightening within the gradually decomposing stomach cavity of a d**d sea lion. Hagfish are the only vertebrate that may absorb dissolved nutrients throughout multiple epithelial membranes, but not only the intestines. Weinrauch and friends looked into exactly what happens as hagfish ‘feed’ by absorbing nutrients ex vivo.

  • Weinrauch and friends (2017) . DOI: 10.1007/s00360-017-1118-1.

Eating lots of d**d and parasitic creatures is a terrific way to digest a complete jumble of ammonia, especially if you’re chowing down a few creatures that are d**d. So as to deal with all of the surplus ammonia, hagfish should have the ability to produce and excrete enormous amounts of urea within a rather brief quantity of time. It turns out that they definitely can and among those ways they achieve this task is by generating a few excellent ammonia-handling proteins in their own skin and also sequectering ammonia in various parts of their body.

  • Wilkie and friends (2017) . DOI: 10.1007/s00227-017-3148-3.
  • Clifford and friends (2017) . DOI: 10.1152/ajpregu.00351.2016.

Folks, if you’re feeling anemic, then you can get some more iron by ingestion iron-rich meals or taking a supplement. Unless you’re a hagfish. Iron that enters a hagfish intestine leaves, practically untouched, through a hagfish butt. Hagfish absorb iron through their own skin. This method is unaffected by environmental oxygen concentration, which makes hagfish more resilient to hypoxia compared to other fish, and it is probably a great think when you’re feeding your way through a blue fin tuna from the inside out.

  • Glover and friends (2017) . DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2016.04.018.

Hagfish do not drink.

  • Glover and friends (2017) . DOI: 10.1007/s00360-017-1097-2.

Bioinsight (that which hagfish inspire within ourselves)

Bioinsights are fresh ways of studying the planet that we gain through researching and understanding wild, bizarre, wonderful places for the sheer joy of discovery. Hagfish, being wild, bizarre, and wonderful, abound with potential insights. The arrangement of hagfish slime is amazing and has been analyzed as the inspiration for a whole slew of new fibers.

  Click the next ARROW to continue reading!








  • Fu and friends (2017) . DOI: 10.1039/C7NR02527K.

Hagfish. You knew they were amazing, but it turns out they’re even more amazing than expected. Raise a slime-covered mug into another grand season in hagfish science, then put it over your head and put it in through your skin. The hagfish way.


If you like Southern Fried Science,  to assist us keep the servers humming and encourage other advanced ocean conservation and science initiatives. Patreon subscribers this month can   ! Because everybody loves hagfish.

More from Southern Fried Science

  • Secrets of the Deep Sea

  • Biodiversity Wednesday: Deep Sea Biology in the Arctic’s Gakkel Ridge

  • Biodiversity Wednesday: Life about deep sea methane seeps

  • Do you find the sea?

  • The Incredible Shrinking Cups: Rimicaris hybisae