Myxini – Hagfishes
One of the oldest extant vertebrates on Earth, have skull but no backbone!
Hagfish are characterized by a lack of true vertebrae and jaws, setting them apart from most other fish. Instead of jaws, they possess a toothed, rasping tongue called a “radula” to feed on carrion, small invertebrates, and even the flesh of larger animals. Their slimy and scaleless bodies are another distinctive feature. Hagfish are notorious for their ability to produce copious amounts of slime as a defense mechanism when threatened. This sticky, protein-based secretion serves to deter predators and allows hagfish to slip out of the grasp of potential threats.
Hagfish play a vital role in the recycling of marine ecosystems. As scavengers, they feed on the remains of dead or dying animals on the ocean floor, preventing the buildup of organic matter. This scavenging behavior contributes to nutrient cycling and helps maintain the health of ocean ecosystems. Additionally, hagfish have been observed engaging in opportunistic feeding, taking advantage of weakened or distressed fish.