A hag is an ugly old woman.


So it stands to reason that a hagfish is an ugly old fish



But is the hagfish to become the height of future fashion?

Hagfish slime: The clothing of the future?

The jawless, spineless hagfish is a primitive creature that lives at the bottom of the ocean and dates back as far as 500 million years – but it exudes a very special slime, which could provide the clothing of the future.

Hagfish are not the most glamorous of creatures.

They slope around on the deep, dark ocean floor, scavenging for food. Dead whale is a favourite.

But they do have a trick up their sleeve, or rather tucked within their snake-like body – abundant, highly-condensed slime.

A hagfish has no jaws, and its slime serves as a valuable form of self-defence.

Dinosaurs became extinct about 60 million years ago but a hagfish fossil – complete with evidence of slime-producing glands – has been found dating back 330 million years.

A hagfish has about 100 of these glands, or invaginations, that run along the side of its body from which they exude a milky, white substance, comprising mucus and thread.

When this gets mixed with seawater, it expands, creating huge amounts of clear slime, composed of very thin – but super-strong and stretchy – fibres.

When you stretch the fibres in water and then dry them out, they become silky.

The largest species of hagfish can reach about 4ft (1.2m), though most are around 1ft (30cm) long.

But despite their small size, a single hagfish has hundreds of kilometres of slime thread inside it.

Scientists believe hagfish slime or similar proteins could be turned into tights or breathable athletic wear, or even bullet-proof vests.

For years, scientists have been looking for alternatives to synthetic fibres like nylon and lycra, or spandex, which are made from oil – a non-renewable resource.

Hagfish slime has the potential to provide a natural and renewable alternative.

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