Spin Hagfish Slime into Silk

Hagfish Slime Thread
Steve Downing / Nikon Small World

Believe it or not, this unraveling thread is from hagfish slime. Hagfish are jawless fish that ward off predators with the production of slime—stringy proteins that expand into a transparent, sticky substance. They can fill a 5-gallon button with the stuff in minutes, and it allows them to slip and slide away from attacking predators, which get a mouthful of slime instead. Each thread is remarkably strong and about 100-times thinner than a human hair, and some researchers are studying how to spin it into new fabrics. This image, taken at 63x zoom, won 20th place in the 1979 Nikon Small World photomicrography competition.