What Makes Hagfish Slime So Powerful?

The hagfish appeared on Earth many millions of years ago and, despite its primitive structure, has managed to survive to this day. This is thanks to an unusual defense mechanism, which this remarkable animal owes its name to. What do hagfish look like? How do they defend themselves against predator attacks?

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5 min readJun 26, 2024
[Photo: Peter Southwood, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Different animals have developed various defense mechanisms against predators. Some are protected by a strong armor, others can save themselves by a swift escape. There are also those that blend effectively into their surroundings, becoming invisible to the hunter’s eyes. The hagfish uses a completely different mechanism, which evidently works exceptionally well. It should be emphasized that these primitive animals have inhabited the seas for 300 million years.

What are hagfish?

Hagfish (Myxini) are a monotypic class of primitive, evolutionarily ancient marine animals, distantly related to fish. They are classified in the taxon of jawless fish and the group of cyclostomes, which they form together with lampreys.