You probably haven't heard of hagfish (sometimes called slime eels) before and seeing one will probably make you cringe with disgust. But don't misjudge these sweet little creatures! There are many facts about hagfish that show they are not only really cool, but beneficial to all of us. Not only do some people eat them for nourishment, but they keep the oceans cleaner, help us with scientific breakthroughs, and some hagfish characteristics just make them seem kind of adorably goofy. Once you get past outward appearances, these animals are downright awesome!
From the odd hagfish mouth to strange little tail, these creatures are truly unique. What they lack in eyes, they make up for in heart (literally), and although they may seem weird, they're pretty much harmless to humans. So, although they may seem like horrifying underwater creatures, they actually do us far more good than bad.
By the time you're done with these hagfish facts, you'll hopefully see this animal in a whole new light. Don't judge a book, or fish, but its cover!
They're Easy On The Eyes... In The Sense That They Don't Have Any
One of the first things you might notice about the hagfish is that it has a very odd looking face. It doesn't seem to have a nose that you can see, and it looks like it has whiskers... and there really aren't any signs of conventional compound eyes. Instead, they have basic eyespots that can detect light around the animal, but doesn't show them any images.
The hagfish has gotten its other senses finely tuned over the eons. They have a very keen sense of smell, even if they don't have what you might see as a normal nose. They have a single nostril on top of their head to help them sniff out a good meal. Their whiskers are also like tentacles for their face. With these little sense stubs, they can find their way around their food, navigate the ocean floor, and say hi to each other when they meet.
They're Soft And Squishy, Not Scaly
Although they're called fish, hagfish aren't actually a scaly creature. Instead, their body is covered in a soft, loose-fitting skin, more similar to our own rather than the usual fish scales. This means that touching one may be a rather slippery experience, but it won't be rough or bumpy. They also come in a small variety of colors, ranging from brown and gray, to pink and pale. The specialized skin is also really cool, as they can breathe through it somewhat, and the Hagfish can absorb nutrients straight into its body through the skin! That means that in a way, if you were to pet one, it would be like it was giving you a smooch with every touch.
They Can Tie Themselves Into Knots
The hagfish isn't exactly a brave creature, especially considering it's actually boneless. It doesn't have the fins a fish might, or the kind of tail you've come to expect, and it has cartilage, but no real bones. Instead, its body is much more like a limp noodle that can wiggle any which way it pleases. It can fit into small spaces and can even wiggle its way into the mud when it's trying to hide from predators. There are times when the hagfish will even wind itself into knots, either to get into a tight spot or to help with digestion and to keep itself from choking on its own mucous. This guy is definitely more a silly spaghetti piece than an evil ocean monster.
They Have A Total Of Four Hearts, So They Can Love You The Most
It's not the outside that counts, it's the inside... and the hagfish has some seriously weird and cool insides. This critter has a very primitive circulatory system that hasn't changed for a very long time. It has four hearts beating inside it with one that serves as a main pump, guiding all the others. The other three are accessory pumps, and all the hearts work together to keep the animal happy and healthy. These other hearts might be so important because the hagfish has such a loose skin that it needs to fill every cavity between the skin and body with some sort of fluid. That fluid happens to be blood, twice as much than with any other fish its size, and the animal may just need that many hearts in order to keep that blood flowing... or to love you the most.