Researchers just recently found an uncommon and crucial hagfish fossil that consists of traces of maintained slime dating to 100 million years earlier.

Eyeless, jawless hagfish– still around today– are unusual, eel-like, carrion-eating fishes that lick the flesh off dead animals utilizing their spiky tongue-like structures. However their most widely known function is the sticky slime that they expel for security.

And now, researchers understand that hagfish slime is robust enough to leave traces in the fossil record, discovering amazing proof in a fossilized hagfish skeleton excavated in Lebanon. This brand-new discovery is likewise triggering scientists to redefine the hagfish’s relationship to other ancient fish and to all animals with foundations. [Photos: The Freakiest Looking Fish]

Hagfish fossils are limited, and this specimen– an “indisputable fossil hagfish”– is incredibly detailed with great deals of soft tissue protected, researchers reported in a research study released online today (Jan. 21) in the journal Procedures of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS).

The fossil dates to the late Cretaceous p eriod(1455 million to 65 million years ago), and steps 12 inches (31 centimeters) in length. Scientist called it Tethymyxine tapirostrum: Tethymyxine originates from “Tethys” (referencing the Tethys Sea) and the Latinized Greek word “myxnios,” which indicates “slimy fish.” Tapirostrom equates as “snout of a tapir,” and describes the fish’s lengthened nose, the research study authors composed.

Hagfish have actually been around for about 500 million years, yet there is beside no trace of them as fossils, mostly since their long, sinuous bodies do not have difficult skeletons, stated lead research study author Tetsuto Miyashita, a postdoctoral fellow with the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago.

” Essentially, it resembles a swimming sausage,” Miyashita informed Live Science. “It’s a bag of skin with a great deal of muscles in it. They do not have any bones or difficult teeth inside them, so it’s truly challenging for them to get protected into the fossil record.”

<i>Tethymyxine tapirostrum</i> is a 100-million-year-old, 12-inch-long fish embedded in a slab of Cretaceous period limestone from Lebanon, and is believed to be the first detailed fossil of a hagfish.”></p>
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Tethymyxine tapirostrum is a100 -million-year-old,12- inch-long fish embedded in a piece of Cretaceous duration limestone from Lebanon, and is thought to be the very first comprehensive fossil of a hagfish.

(****************** )Credit: Tetsuto Miyashita, University of Chicago .

When threatened, contemporary hagfish produce a kind of mucous from unique slime glands dispersed along their bodies. As keratin fibers– the things that comprises our fingernails and hair– in the mucous encounter water, they tangle and broaden the slime glob to about 10,000 times its initial size in simply a couple of tenths of a 2nd, scientists reported in another research study, released Jan.16 in the journal(********************** )Royal Society User Interface .

(*** ). Hagfish slime(****** )is a sticky mess that hinders predators by blocking their gills, and this slimy defense is even efficient on land, as a variety of unfortunate drivers found out in(*************************************** ). Generous, gooey hagfish slime briefly closed down part of a highway(****** )in Oregon, after a truck reversed and discarded its payload of hagfish– 7, (********************************************* )pounds (3,400 kgs )– onto the roadway.

And now, researchers understand that this slimy defense remained in location100 million years earlier, possibly utilized to discourage Cretaceous marine predators such as ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and ancient sharks, Miyashita stated.

The PNAS research study authors analyzed the hagfish fossil utilizing synchrotron scanning– a kind of imaging innovation that bombards items with extremely stimulated and polarized particles– and they discovered chemical signatures of keratin fibers focused in more than 100 locations.

Its existence in the fossil recommended that ancient hagfish throughout this duration had actually currently progressed their slimy superpower, according to the research study.

Synchrotron scanning of the <i>Tethymyxine tapirostrum</i> hagfish fossil revealed traces of chemical left behind when the soft tissues fossilized, including signs of keratin that indicate a series of slime-producing glands along the body.”></p>
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Synchrotron scanning of the Tethymyxine tapirostrum hagfish fossil exposed traces of chemical left when the soft tissues fossilized, consisting of indications of keratin that suggest a

series of slime-producing

glands along the body.
(**** ). Credit: Tetsuto Miyashita, University of Chicago (******************* ).

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This unusual discover likewise supplies a clearer image of where these oddball,(************************* )slime-producing fish belong on the tree of life, possibly assisting to settle a clinical argument covering centuries, Miyashita stated

(*** ). Hagfish are so odd that they have actually long been viewed as “the odd ones out” on the fish ancestral tree, the sole residents of a lonesome branch, Miyashita stated. Due to the fact that their fossils are so limited, it’s uncertain the length of time earlier hagfish diverged from the typical forefather they showed all other fishes (and consequently, all vertebrates).

However the brand-new fossil programs that hagfish 100 million years earlier were incredibly comparable to hagfish today, recommending that their specialized functions collected slowly in time. If so, instead of being a more primitive “cousin” to other fish, hagfish needs to be organized together with long-bodied lampreys, the research study authors reported. In clarifying these relationships, researchers establish a more comprehensive image of how animals with foundations progressed, Miyashita stated.

” Where we put hagfish makes a distinction to how we consider our own forefathers, more than 500 million years earlier,” he included.

Initially released on Live Science