Mixina — big worm or long fish?
Not every creature on the planet is called «the most disgusting.» The invertebrate Mixina also carries other unflattering nicknames: “eel-slug”, “sea worm” and “fish witch”. Let’s try to figure out why so got an underwater inhabitant.
Looking at the photo of the mixin , one cannot immediately tell who it is: a huge worm , an elongated snail without a shell, or a kind of fish . This sea animal looks too unusual.
However, scientists have already decided. They attributed the mixin to the link between the worms and the fish. This unusual creature is attributed to vertebrates, although it has no vertebrae. There is only a skeleton of the skull. The mixin class is easier to determine, the creature belongs to the cycloshomes.
Peculiarities and habitats of myxins
The animal has an unusual external structure. Mixinas tend to have a body length of 45-70 centimeters. In rare cases, grow longer. While the record was recorded length of 127 centimeters.
Nostrils without a pair decorates the head. Around the mouth and the nostrils grow antennae. Usually there are 6-8 of them. These antennae are a tactile organ for an animal, unlike the eyes that have skin overgrown with mixins. The fins of the underwater inhabitants are practically undeveloped.
Mixin’s mouth, unlike most famous animals, opens horizontally. In the mouth you can see 2 rows of teeth and one unpaired tooth in the sky. For a long time, scientists could not understand how to mixin . As a result, it turned out that through the only nostril. Their respiratory organs are the gills, which consist of several cartilaginous plates.
The color of the «sea monster» depends a lot on the habitat, most often in nature you can find the following colors:
- dull green.A unique feature is the presence of holes that secrete mucus. They are located mainly on the lower edge of the body of the «witch fish». This is a very important organ for all mixin, it helps to hunt other animals and not become prey to predators.
The internal structure of the mixin is also of interest. The underwater inhabitant boasts the presence of two brains and four hearts. 3 additional organs are located in the head, tail and liver of the “sea monster”. And the blood passes through all four hearts. If one of them fails, the animal can continue to live on.
According to scientists, over the past three hundred thousand years, myxine has remained almost unchanged. It is her fossil appearance that horrifies people, although previously such inhabitants were not uncommon.
Where can I find mixin? It turns out, not far from the coast:
- North America;
- East Greenland.Russian fisherman can meet her in the Barents Sea. The Atlantic mixin lives on the bottom of the North Sea and in the western Atlantic. Underwater residents prefer a depth of 100-500 meters, but sometimes they can be found at a depth of more than a kilometer.
Character and lifestyle of myxines
In the daytime the mixins prefer to sleep. They bury their lower parts in the mud, leaving only part of the head on the surface. At night, sea worms go hunting.
In fairness, it is worth noting that it is difficult to call a full-fledged hunt. «Witch fish» almost always attack only sick and immobilized fish . For example, those that are hooked on fishing rods or fishing nets.
If the victim can still resist, the «sea monster» immobilizes it. Climbing under the gills, myxine secretes mucus . The gills stop working normally, and the victim dies from choking.
At the same time the animal produces mucus a lot. One individual in a few seconds can fill the whole bucket. By the way, precisely because animals exude so much mucus, they do not represent much interest for predators. «Eel-slug» with dexterity jumps out of the mouth of marine animals.
Mixins themselves do not like to be in their mucus, so after the attacks, they try to get rid of it as soon as possible and curl up in a knot. Probably therefore, evolution did not reward the underwater inhabitants with scales.
Recently, scientists have concluded that myxin mucus can be used in pharmaceuticals. The fact is that it has a unique chemical composition that helps to stop the bleeding. Probably in the future, out of the mucus will make a medicine.
Since the mixin fish spends most of its life at the bottom, it is also looking for lunch there. Most often, the underwater inhabitant delves in the mud in search of worms and organic debris from other marine animals. Cyclostoma enter the dead fish through the gills or mouth. There it scrapes the remnants of flesh from the bones.
However, mixins also feed on sick and healthy fish. Experienced fishermen know that if the «eels-slugs» have already chosen a place, then there will be no catch. It is easier to immediately roll up the fishing rods and find a new place. Firstly, because, where a multi-hundred flock of mixin has hunted, there is nothing to catch. Secondly, a witch fish, can easily bite a person.
On the other hand, the mixins themselves are quite edible. They taste like fish. However, not everyone decides to try the sea worm because of its appearance. True, the Japanese, Taiwanese and Koreans do not bother. Lamprey and mixin they have delicacies. Especially tasty are fried individuals.
Reproduction and lifetime of myxines
In a peculiar way, the sea myxins multiply . For a hundred females to have offspring, only one male is enough. However, many species are hermaphroditic. They choose the sex for themselves if there are too few males in the pack.
Reproduction takes place away from the coast at great depths. The female lays from 1 to 30 large eggs (each approximately 2 centimeters) of oval shape. After that, the male fertilizes them.
Unlike many underwater inhabitants, after spawning, the myxine worm does not die, although it does not eat anything during it. «Eel-slug» leaves offspring several times in their lives.
Some scientists believe that the mixins do not have the larvae stage, others believe that it simply does not last long. In any case, the young hatched very quickly become similar to their parents.
Also, it is impossible to determine for certain the lifespan of a “witch fish”. According to some information, it can be assumed that the “most disgusting creature” in nature lives up to 10-15 years.
The mixin themselves are very tenacious. They can stay for a long time without water and food, and also survive severe injuries. Reproduction of marine worms also contributes to the fact that they practically do not represent commercial interest. Is that in some eastern countries they are caught as a delicacy, and the Americans have learned to make «skin eels» from animals.