Hagfish's loose skin is life-saver

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Hagfish's loose skin is life-saver

December 16, 2017 - 21:35
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Scientists from Chapman University discover that the hagfish's loose skin is a useful defence against predators.

Hagfish protruding from a sponge.

Although hagfishes are not much to look at, they have an enviable defence mechanism that protects them from predators. Whenever predators like sharks bite them, they are forced to release them due to the slime released by the hagfish. 

But how does the hagfish survive the initial attack in the first place?

Scientists from Chapman University considered this and came up with two possibilities: either the hagfish’s skin was puncture resistant, or that it was loose and flaccid.

After some research, they concluded that it was the latter.

"A sizable slack volume in hagfishes, combined with minimal attachment of the skin to the muscle, allows the body to slip out of harm's way even when the skin is punctured,” said Douglas Fudge, PhD, associate professor of biological sciences at Chapman University. He is the lead author of a paper detailing their research on this subject, which was published in the 13th December issue of Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

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