the jaw lives

The Bestiary: Hagfish

There is just something about prehistoric ages that is flat out terrifying. For some reason the days of yore were teeming with the most repulsive, frightening creatures ever culled from the worst nightmares of a thousand horror game devs. From 2.5-meters-long centipede Arthropleura to Parapuzosia, an ammonite that measured two meters across at least, the olden days were not user friendly to modern-day humans.

NOPE

Now consider that all these horrifying fucks have died out - from the tiniest trilobite to the most enormous Godzilla-tier ground sloth. But some of them remained, unchanging despite millenia of geological and meteorological change patiently trying to fuck them over. They remained, watching, loathing. (Except for the velvet worms. Velvet worms are adorable.)

And we’re going to look at a prime example of this kind of terror today. Ladies and gentlesquids: the hagfish.

No, before you ask, Eptatretus stoutii is not some kind of throwback nematodan worm that gets a kick out of living in whales’ guts. This is, against all odds, really a fish. It is, however, from a more ancient time, and thus doesn’t yet know how to properly fish.

How ancient it is? Well, it still has no jaw.

Oh, you thought that big round opening on its head that definitely looks like a closable jaw is its mouth? Tough luck, slugger;that’s actually its nose. The mouth, on the other hand, is a horrid mix of the dreaded Vagina Dentata and sandpaper. Seriously, the lamprey has nothing on this shit.

*inhumane screaming*

Holy disturbing imagery, Batman!

but if you think this is the most disgusting thing about the hagfish, think a-fucking-gain. There’s yet more to come.

First of all, the hagfish is known for one of the most revolting, yet effective defense mechanisms in the animal world. If having an enormous vagina for a face wasn’t enough of an allusion to Hedorah already, it protects itself from the big asshole predators by flooding the surrounding water with shitloads of slime. And when I say shitloads, I mean shitloads.

These are things man was not meant to see

The hagfish’s slime is one of the best biofilaments in the entire world, being able to clog up state-of-the-art diving equipment and suffocate even the most pants-shittingly terrifying predatory animals that are more or less the Mega Evolutions of ordinary sea life. What’s even better, the hagfish can produce more or less infinite amounts of it, so if it wanted to drown human civilization in a tidal wave of slime and then feast on our souls for all eternity, it could have done it already, with relative ease.

Thankfully, it’s not interested in puny mortals. What it’s interested in is eating, eating, and then eating some more; it’s every chef’s dream client, if said chef has a stomach made of adamantium and thus he doesn’t vomit his stomach out at the way in which the hagfish eats.

This little slimy fuck is an opportunistic scavenger, which means that if it happens upon a sufficiently tasty-looking corpse, it will immediately dig in. Literally.

In order to eat, the hagfish first tears its way to the corpse’s innards. However, since it’s physically puny, it needs to boost its momentum… which it does by literally tying a knot onto itself.

WITCHCRAFT

After it breaks in, the hagfish nestles itself in the body cavity, and starts reenacting the Alien movies.

The hagfish will eat the corpse from the inside out, some parts with its eldritch, jawess mouth, but most of it with its bare skin. Oh, yeah, did I forget to mention the fact that they can eat through their skin? Silly me.