Strong and slimy

Scientists spin threads from snotlike secretions of hagfish

By Stephen Ornes, 15:31 PM January 10, 2013

Scientist Atsuko Negishi holds a hagfish in one hand and its slime in the other. She studies the ooze in the lab of materials scientist David Fudge, at far right. Credit: Andra Zommers/University of Guelph

Big marine predators that try to snack on a hagfish get a nasty surprise. When threatened, the slender hagfish releases enough snotty goo to gag a shark.

Materials scientists from Douglas Fudge’s laboratory at the University of Guelph in Canada have now found a way to create strong, stretchy fibers from the slime. These might one day be used in parachutes, packing materials or even — if you’re brave enough to wear it — clothing. The researchers introduced the idea of making fabric from ha...

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