You like slime? Boy do these little critters like to make it! How about eating dead creatures… from the inside out? Read on:
HAGFISH ARE ALSO known as slime eels, thought they are not eels. They belong to the class Agnatha, fish without jaws.
There are an estimated 76 species of hagfish, which live in cold waters around the world. They can be found as deep as 5,600 feet, and prefer to stay near the soft sea floor, where they can bury themselves if threatened.
The largest hagfish, Eptatretus goliath, can grow to more than four feet, while the smallest species reach only several inches long.
Hagfish have a reputation for being disgusting — it might have something to do with their sliminess and their unsavory dining habits — but they’re actually valuable parts of the ocean ecosystem, and that slime might have practical applications.
Hagfish have a primitive circulatory system that has four hearts: one serves as the main pump, while the other three serve as accessory pumps.
Although they have been observed actively hunting fish, hagfish mostly feed on dead and dying creatures on the sea floor. They are known to bury themselves face-first in a carcass, boring a tunnel deep into its flesh to eat their meal from the inside out. Hagfish perform an important ecological service, cleaning and recycling dead animals from the sea floor.
Read more on this great monster/creature here on Wired.
A great hagfish video here on Smithsonian!