Slime couture.

This is a few weeks old by now, but still in fashion in a gorgeously disgusting way. Science News celebrates the creation of fine fabrics using hagfish slime:

“The tensile properties approach those of spider silk, and that’s very exciting,” says biomaterials specialist Douglas Fudge of the University of Guelph in Canada. Synthetic fabrics such as nylon are derived from petroleum, notes Fudge, so studying hagfish threads may lead to renewable “green” materials for making all sorts of things.

To study the threads, Atsuko Negishi, a researcher in Fudge’s lab, collected buckets of slime from Atlantic hagfish (Myxine glutinosa). The long, slender jawless creatures have lines of slime pores that run down the sides of their body; some species have more than 100 such pores. When hagfish are provoked or stressed, the pores eject copious amounts of slime, which gets caught in the gills of predators — including sharks — making them gag and back off.

“There’s very little that’s been known about hagfish. People don’t like them and think they are gross,” says research scientist Vincent Zintzen of the National Museum of New Zealand in Wellington. “The idea of looking at their slime is very interesting. It’s totally different from anything that we’ve seen in the natural world.”

It helps if you understand just how sumptuously repellent hagfish slime actually is. Myxine glutinosa basically means “glutinous mucous-er.” Here, a short video: