Why I am an atheist – Sara Mallory »« The blindness of some scientists

Comments

  1. says

    They wrap themselves around their prey and strangle them in clouds of goo.

    Sort of the IDiots of the marine world, doing physically what DIiots do mentally.

    Actually, I think everyone in the vicinity of the shark would be envious of the jawless one’s slime.

    Glen Davidson

  2. says

    Cat-hater. You’re just bitter because cats (unlike cephalopods) are cool. My cat could have taken your hagfish any day of the week.

    Incidentally — does anyone know why Freethought Blogs runs ads for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association? It seems a little ironic to see “Boldly Proclaim I Am A Christian” over on the sidebar of Pharyngula — although if it finances Freethought then why not, I suppose…

  3. Sili says

    My phone gives me an ad that says “Believe in God? We can fix that.”

    Which would likely be better, if it didn’t feature a ridiculous malformed, bigbreasted cartoon woman.

  4. Norm says

    I’ve had the distinct pleasure of holding a hagfish in my hands. If you rub their slime off onto your hands and then dip your hands into sea water, the slime swells up into great globs of gooey greatness; it’s like wearing gloves made of goo. Totally cool.

  5. Aquaria says

    This is a level of disgusting a cat can only dream of achieving.

    One of my cats was the master of revenge.

    I moved his favorite perch by the window. He horked in my Louis Vuitton ballerina flats.

    Another cat was Diana, the mighty huntress. I went out to the deck one day, and her “gift” to us was only the tail, skin on the butt and back of legs and one sliver of intestine of a mouse. Somehow, that was grosser than the decapitations.

  6. Zagabu says

    My superpower of choice! Huge volumes of disgusting awesome slime. Hagfishman isn’t a very good name though…

  7. says

    Wow, that was amazing. The knotting was very unexpected – it seems like it did not hurt the creature, but was part of it’s offensive manuevers?

    Also, I love your Anti-Caturday icon! Just had to say it.

  8. says

    PZ wrote: “They wrap themselves around their prey and strangle them in clouds of goo.”
    That sounds like some dogs I’ve met.
    Mutant Dragon #3 – I think it’s funny to get religious ads here.

  9. magistramarla says

    PZ – You’re just jealous because cats are cute, not disgusting. Even my dog agrees – he and my cat mutually groom each other. It’s funny watching an 80 lb German Shepherd licking the ears of a 17 lb flame-point Siamese. It looks like the dog is tasting the cat, and the cat is enjoying it.
    It’s even funnier at my daughter’s house. Her tiny Lynx-point Siamese kitten chases the two Dobermans around the house. He’s in charge, and he knows it.
    Cats rule – cephalopods drool!

  10. Father Ogvorbis, OM says

    Let this be a lesson. Being slimey and disgusting means that you are invulnerable. See, for example, the numerous GOP politicians (Huckabee, Palin, Bachmann, Gingrich, Perry, McCain, etc.) who get away with everything.

  11. thoughtform says

    Does anyone know if anyone in the skeptic movement or even on Freethought blogs handles peak-energy issues? Like investigating the claim that we have one hundred years of petrol left?

  12. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    He horked in my Louis Vuitton ballerina flats.

    That’s what you get for having expensive shoes. If you’d had Payless $10 specials then your cat would have merely sneered at them and found somewhere else to ralph.

  13. asidity says

    @Norm (#5): Out of curiosity, do you know if that happens in freshwater as well? Or is it a function of the salinity of the water?

  14. says

    I love hagfish, they’re so creepy. Perfect for Halloween. My browser won’t let me see that video, but I saw one vid of a bunch of them feeding on a whale carcass. *Shudders* Awesome.
    @#8 Evader: It’s how they feed. They lack proper jaws, so they tie themselves into knots in order to get proper purchase on their food. They can dig their way into large carrion and eat it from the inside. They also knot themselves to rid themselves of the slime they produce. I doubt the knotting hurts them since they don’t have a proper vertebral column, just a notochord.

  15. Cyberguy says

    I came upon a hagfish while scuba-diving in Milford Sound, New Zealand, some time around 1985. I immediately recognized it, from a book of NZ fishes that was on the boat.

    I held the hagfish firmly with my gloved hand around the middle of its body (there was no way I was going to touch the thing in bare hands!) and it slimed. The water was full of drifting bits of goo. Then it tied its tail in an overhand knot which moved up the body until the knot came in contact with my hand. The creature then pulled its head out of my grip. Because it was so slimy, I could not hold it and it slowly swam away.

    I repeated the experiment a couple of times, and found there was almost no way to hold the thing without it escaping.

    Amazing.

  16. The Rat King says

    @ #3 + #10:

    Cats aren’t cute; they are disgusting, selfish creatures with all the charm and used-car-salesman charisma of a Wall Street banker. The second you are unable to feed them, they will leave you.

  17. says

    thoughtform #12

    Does anyone know if anyone in the skeptic movement or even on Freethought blogs handles peak-energy issues? Like investigating the claim that we have one hundred years of petrol left?

    I’ve never heard of any. The best person I’ve heard on the subject is Dr. Albert Bartlett in his video Arithmetic, Energy, and Population.
    Comments?

  18. uncle frogy says

    I knew that the hag fish could do that but I have never ever personally seen one.
    What amazes me is the speed with which the effect takes place.
    I would have expected the shark to have done some damage before he had to release the hag fish but I doubt there was more than a few scratches. wow!

    uncle frogy

  19. ChasCPeterson says

    Awesome!

    Totally.
    Hagfish rock.
    Pretty sure it was Romer who called them “vertebrates by courtesy only.” On account of they have no vertebrae, and apparently neither did any of their ancestors.
    They do have ‘skulls’ made from neural crest tissue, so they’re officially ‘craniates’ but not ‘vertebrates’. They retain a notochord, linking the rest of us with skulls to the other chordates, amphioxuses and tunicates and shit. No bone ever, and no jaws or paired appendages, ever. and what else…they have no myelin, nor (is this right?) blood cells, nor some immune system shit.
    Anyway. Totally awesome relicts from, like, the Cambrian, I guess. That’s pretty awesome!

  20. uncle frogy says

    The best person I’ve heard on the subject is Dr. Albert Bartlett in his video Arithmetic, Energy, and Population. ==============
    Yes I agree the video took me right took me right off the TV and Graham Norton and left me with much to think about.
    were boned!

    uncle frogy

  21. Vasha says

    Totally awesome relicts from, like, the Cambrian, I guess.

    <petpeeve>Just because their lineage diverged from ours in the Cambrian doesn’t make them relicts — they’ve been evolving since then too.</petpeeve>

  22. madtom1999 says

    I remember having fun with hagfish as a child. After you’ve had one knot itself and force itself out of your grip a few times you can then put one in a large bucket (3 imp gallons) of seawater and come back a few minutes later to discover the whole bucket is jelly. Whatever that stuff is its impressive.
    I don’t know what repels the attackers in it but the hagfish survived in the bucket of jelly overnight so it must allow some oxygen transfer – or perhaps they can dissolve just enough of it to respire safely.

  23. Alice Shortcake says

    “Then knotting occurred.”

    I can’t wait for an opportunity to use that phrase in conversation.

  24. ChasCPeterson says

    they’ve been evolving since then too.</petpeeve>

    But not much, morphologically, is the point. Your peeve (which is of course true enough) is causing you to miss that point.

    Retaining a bunch of ancestral characteristics that were (in terms of the story of vertebrate evolution) invenented in the Cambrian while all other related lineages have elaborated on the design in various ways does, in my view, make them a relict.

    To imperfectly analogize, a running Model-T Ford is a relic(t) of the 1920s even if it’s had lots of parts replaced in that time.

  25. coragyps says

    # 20 – Hagfish slime only slimes in salt water, as I recall. Science had a piece on it about 20 years ago – oh, for the life of a grad student!!

    I may get energetic nd look for a cite – but don’t hold your breath.

  26. Vasha says

    @32:

    But you’re arbitrarily focusing on the features that haven’t changed and ignoring the ones that have (admittedly I can’t cite references for what features have changed). You might as well call humans “relicts” among tetrapods for still having five digits.

  27. Lotharloo says

    I’ve never heard of any. The best person I’ve heard on the subject is Dr. Albert Bartlett in his video Arithmetic, Energy, and Population.

    That lecture blew my mind. It’s really amazing!

  28. Amphiox says

    @32;

    But then again, overall, have they really retained so many more ancestral characteristics compared to other vertebrates? The Cambrian forms would be something like Haikouichthys. Are they really more similar to these than other vertebrates?

    Did Haikuoichthys et al have that slime? Could they knot their bodies?

    Talking about primitive vs derived is really only valid on a per feature basis.

  29. says

    I think that in a more or less typical sense one could think of the agnathans as relics from the Cambrian period. This is in the sense of there being only the hagfishes and lampreys left of the superclass Agnatha, while gnathostomes constitute a huge number of forms, including ourselves.

    Yes, I know that “relic” has unfortunate connotations, suggesting that they are little changed, if at all, when they may be quite different in fact.

    But words commonly have such difficulties, and if one wishes to emphasize how fortunate we are in the sense of knowledge–especially knowledge of evolution–to still have agnathans, the two groups of agnathans could well be considered relics of an age that had many more agnathan forms.

    Glen Davidson

  30. Amphiox, OM says

    I think that in a more or less typical sense one could think of the agnathans as relics from the Cambrian period. This is in the sense of there being only the hagfishes and lampreys left of the superclass Agnatha, while gnathostomes constitute a huge number of forms, including ourselves.

    I do agree that it is fairer and perhaps more rigorous to call a larger clade, like a superclass, a relic, than any individual species.

    For instance, modern hagfishes in their current form, being primarily scavengers of large vertebrates like whales and fishes, could only have evolved after such large vertebrates. (The same could be said for modern lampreys in their current form, being primarily parasites on those same large vertebrates….)

  31. Pteryxx says

    For instance, modern hagfishes in their current form, being primarily scavengers of large vertebrates like whales and fishes, could only have evolved after such large vertebrates.

    Hold that thought. Modern hagfishes also hunt, and hunting may account for more of their food than we’d thought:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/10/27/hagfish-filmed-choking-sharks-with-slime-and-actively-hunting-fish/

    Their ancestors could have just as well been hunting (and scavenging) before vertebrates. There were other big things back then, neh?

  32. ChasCPeteson says

    Coincidentlaly I ran across this previous discussion of similar issues.

    Mucous is formed from…

    ‘Mucous’ is an adjective. ‘Mucus’ is the noun.

    But you’re arbitrarily focusing on the features that haven’t changed and ignoring the ones that have.

    No I’m not. I’m counting up the many, many ancestral characteristics retained, putting them in the context of the whole animal’s worth of characteristics (including derived traits…like what?), and comparing that ratio to all other vertebtrates. What I’m not doing is what you did: point at a single ancestral trait and generalize to the whole animal.

    So OK, how’s this? A recognizable fossil hagfish from 300 mllion years ago.

    Or how about this: discernable differences between lamprey-like and hagfish-like vertebrates from the Cambrian itself.

    I rest the case for relictness. They’re giant conodont animals, basically.

  33. Carlie says

    There’s nothing that says they have to have been evolving since then, at least not much. If there have been relatively large populations, and they’ve been in environments that haven’t changed much, all you’d really have is maybe a bit of drift and a few mutations.