Friday Harbor Labs' Adam Summer
Friday Harbor Labs’ Adam Summer

Researchers from the University of Washington, Chapman University and University of Guelph have published new research showing how hagfishes — an ancient group of eel-like animals found at the bottom of the ocean — survive an initial attack from predators before they release large volumes of slime to defend themselves. Results show that hagfish skin is not puncture resistant; instead, it is both unattached and flaccid, which helps avoid internal damage from penetrating teeth.

Their study published this week in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

“We tested a wide range of fish skin because we were convinced that hagfish skin, which makes excellent leather, would be far harder to penetrate,” UW’s Adam Summers, whose students at Friday Harbor Labs performed skin-puncture tests on 22 fish species including hagfish, explained. “It was a surprise that it was as easy to poke a hole in hagfish skin as flounder skin, but the hagfish skin is so loose it just slides away rather than getting cut.”

Read more at UW Today »