Hagfish II – the sliming (plus some mantis shrimp goodness)

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Last week’s post on the hagfish was pretty popular, or at least caused a lot of ‘yuk!’s, which may or may not be the same thing. So I thought I’d bring you a couple of videos about this little slimy charmer.

The first is a demonstration of how fast and how effectively the mucus turns water into slime: within seconds, a beaker full of water becomes a beaker full of goo. The second, taken on the ocean floor (‘in the wild’, as it were), shows how predators react when they bite into a hagfish. As you might imagine, none of them fancy a mouthful of slime, and back off fast, shaking their heads to get the goo out of their mouths. Hagfish 14, predators nil.

Mantis shrimp, by EunJae. Licensed under Creative Commons
Mantis shrimp, by EunJae. Licensed under Creative Commons

There will probably be more on the hagfish in future, because it has other fascinating attributes, but since we’re using this newfangled video technology, here’s one of the peacock mantis shrimp – you can see how effective it is at smashing things, as well as getting a close-up view of its bright pink eyes which give it hexocular vision (6 fields of vision, instead of the measly 2 of humans). Lawrence Alex Wu has a great photo of the shrimp here.

And from this article in the National Wildlife Federation comes a quote that I simply can’t resist. I’ll quote the paragraph: Humans who get their soft body parts near mantis shrimp often regret it. “We had a massive sampling program in Panama,” recalls (Roy) Caldwell (of the University of California – Berkeley). “Each stomatopod was examined under a microscope. A lot of students manned the project, and if you thumb through the logbook you can tell when a new person showed up by the bloodstains.” Caldwell once received a letter from a South African diver who grabbed a large smasher and lost a finger to it.

Now that’s a real research project.

[Featured image: Mantis Shrimp, image by prilfish. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.]


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