Friday, March 4, 2011
Who are you calling a hagfish?
But it seems the skin of the hagfish isn't just about excreting. Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada have recently learned that absorption is going on, too. More specifically, as the hagfish burrows into a carcass to feed, it takes in nutrients through its mouth AND through its skin and gills. Who would have thought?
While this has been seen in invertebrate fishes, it's the first documentation of such an system in an animal so close to modern fishes and invertebrates (hagfish have a notochord, not an actual backbone). This reseasrch isn't just about nutrients, however. As a sea creature, hagfish also have to deal with saline levels (which can affect cell osmosis) and temperature changes. How their skin can handle these, as well as nutrient transfer, could lead to some interesting and important applications.
This "nasty creature of the sea" might not be so nasty after all! Read more about this new discovery here.