Phenomena

Hagfish Crash

Last week a flatbed truck in Oregon overturned and released 3400 kilograms of live hagfish on the highway and nearby cars. Hagfish are eel-like fish known for their impressive slime production. When threatened, the hagfish produce mucins that, when combined with water, form an extremely viscoelastic mucus. As it’s stretched, the mucus thickens and becomes more viscous. Normally, hagfish use this property to clog the gills of fish trying to eat them. The slime is weak, however, to shearing; hagfish actually tie themselves in knots to slide the slime off when there’s too much of it. The Oregon Department of Transportation managed to clear the road of mucus (and hagfish) using bulldozers and fire hoses, but it did take them several hours. For more photos and videos from the incident, check out Gizmodo and the Oregon State Police Twitter feed. (Image credit: Oregon State Police; via Gizmodo)

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