The monsters and aliens of Hollywood movies are not complete without repulsive slime, mucous and saliva that drip from their mouths. After seeing this image of the car, one can think it is captured from movie set. But this white gelatinous mess is real that was created in 2017 on an Oregon (USA) highway when a truck carrying numerous live hagfish overturned and covered passing cars in slime.

Hagfish is an eel-shaped, slime-producing marine fish and has the ability to generate massive amounts of slime in a matter of seconds. The slime rapidly expands and creates huge volumes when combined with seawater. Actually it is a protective system of this fish and produces slime to sliding itself from predators. When it is attacked by its predator, the hagfish releases quantities of this milky and fibrous slime that clogs the gills of predator fish, such as sharks, disabling their ability to respire. Because of this defense mechanism, predators don\’t want to attack them. The predators are tangled by the slime that gets elasticity with it comes contact with water.

Like some animals and fishes, this fishes also use slime to mark their territory. They are called “slime eels”- but actually they are not eels. They are in the class Agnatha, designated for fish without jaws. Generally they cover the carcass, preventing other scavengers from creeping in on their turf. Hagfish slime is made up of microscopic pockets of mucus and tightly wound bundles of stringy fiber dubbed “skeins.” When a drop of goo hits the water, the skeins inside can unravel into strings several centimeters long in less than half a second.

In many Asian countries, especially South Korea, the hagfish is a delicacy. Many don\’t want to eat this fish because of its unpleasant aftertaste. This slime is used in many Asian cuisines the same way egg whites are used. They produce the slime keeping them alive and irritated by rattling its container with a stick, causing it to produce large quantities of slime.

After being overturned of the containers, the Oregon highway is coated with slime. The containers were probably full of slime when it overturned. The final act most likely triggered an intense slime producing reaction covering the cars on the highway with muck.

Many scientists are starting to understand the secrets of the slime, and some of them are attempting to synthesize it in the lab to create new super materials with a wide range of applications. Benthic Labs is trying to develop a biodegradable polymer made out of components of the slime itself. They think the slime could be used in everything from protective clothing to food packaging, bungee cords to bandages.
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