Monday, September 27, 2010

Creature Feature: Hagfish

Wait a minute. It's not time for "They Actually Eat That!" What gives, Kuro?

This one was gross enough to warrant its own entry beyond "They Actually Eat That." Hagfish (class Myxini) are disgusting, slimy and fascinating enough to be cool without being food, even if Korea does eat them. If you're trying to not be a nation of weird food, Korea, you are failing. Dog I'll buy, but what conditions led to hagfish on the menu? You'll see why this is gross as hell in a sec. Condoms are not involved in my reasoning.

Hagfish are not technically fish. Although they look a lot like eels, they have no spinal cord or jaws to speak of - the only bone in their bodies is their skull. (This makes them technically invertebrates.) They do not have toothy jaws, instead having toothy projections in their mouths that just act like teeth. Their mouths are also framed with bar- no, wait, those are totally tentacles from a Japanese porno mag.

This is seriously Grade A Fetish Fodder.

Freaked out yet? No? Keep reading and watching:

Hagfish are slimy. That is not an opinion, it is a fact. Their long, eel-like bodies are covered in a mucous coating that makes them extremely slippery and becomes stinky, gooey gunk when mixed with water. This slime can turn a 5-liter bucket of water into nothing but slime in mere minutes. A hagfish is so slimy that it has to tie itself in a knot just so that it can breathe outside of its own slime every now and then.

As one might be able to guess from all of its primitive traits, the hagfish has gone unchanged for eons. The hagfish first appeared around 330 million years ago in the Late Carboniferous Period - waaaayyyyyy earlier than the dinosaurs everyone knows and loves. Scientists are not kidding when they say that this creature is almost an evolutionary transition point from invertebrates to fish. Now, if only it could evolve to produce just a little less slime.

If you need to do acrobatics just to get out of your own self-defense, something is wrong.

Hagfish are in every ocean, spanning 5 genera. Several new species have recently been discovered in the deepsea abyss - y'know, the place where nightmares are born and Cthulhu has a sweet pad called R'lyeh. Sleep tight.

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