Unlocking extra secrets and techniques of hagfish slime

A recently discovered species: the Galapagos Ghost Hagfish (Myxine phantasma).

Enlarge / A lately found species: the Galapagos Ghost Hagfish (Myxine phantasma). (credit score: Tim Winegard)

Meet the common-or-garden hagfish, an unsightly, grey, eel-like creature affectionately referred to as a “snot snake,” due to its distinctive protection mechanism. The hagfish can unleash a full liter of sticky slime from pores situated throughout its physique in lower than one second. That is ample to, say, clog the gills of a predatory shark, suffocating the would-be predator. A brand new paper printed within the journal Present Biology studies that the slime produced by bigger hagfish comprises a lot bigger cells than slime produced by smaller hagfish—an uncommon instance of cell dimension scaling with physique dimension in nature.

As we have reported beforehand, scientists have been learning hagfish slime for years as a result of it is such an uncommon materials. It is not like mucus, which dries out and hardens over time. Hagfish slime stays slimy, giving it the consistency of half-solidified gelatin. That is because of lengthy, thread-like fibers within the slime along with the proteins and sugars that make up mucin, the opposite main element. These fibers coil up into “skeins” that resemble balls of yarn. When the hagfish lets unfastened with a shot of slime, the skeins uncoil and mix with the salt water, blowing up greater than 10,000 instances its authentic dimension.

From a supplies standpoint, hagfish slime is fascinating stuff. Again in 2016 a bunch of Swiss researchers studied the weird fluid properties of hagfish slime, particularly specializing in how these properties supplied two distinct benefits: serving to the animal defend itself from predators and tying itself in knots to flee from its personal slime. They discovered that various kinds of fluid circulate have an effect on the general viscosity of the slime. A flowing liquid is actually a sequence of layers sliding previous each other. The sooner one layer slides over one other, the extra resistance there’s, and the slower the sliding, the much less resistance there’s. As I wrote for Gizmodo on the time:

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