Order MYXINIFORMES


Common name: Hagfishes
Summary:

Hagfishes belong to an ancient lineage of marine cartilaginous eel-like “fishes” that lack true jaws and have degenerate eyes and many gill openings. They are pre-vertebrates. 

Some authors consider hagfishes to be the sister group to the jawless lampreys and all the jawed vertebrates (fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals). Others hypothesise that the jawless vertebrates (hagfishes and lampreys) are the sister group to all higher vertebrates based on molecular analyses.

Hagfishes have long been thought of as primitive deep-sea scavengers that rasp their way into carcasses and feed from the inside out. However, recent video footage taken off New Zealand shows hagfish preying on other fishes (Zintzen et al. 2011). Hagfishes are renowned for their amazing slime production, and video footage in the same article shows hagfishes avoiding predation by clogging up the mouths and gills of predators.

Living species belong to a single family, the Myxinidae, with seven genera and 76 described species in two subfamilies.

Author: Dianne J. Bray

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Hagfishes, MYXINIFORMES in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Nov 2017, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/order/29

Order References


Bardack, D. 1991. First fossil hagfish (Myxinoidea) – a record from the pennsylvanian of Illinois. Science 254: 701–703.

Clark, A.J. & Summers, A.P. 2007. Morphology and kinematics of feeding in hagfish: possible functional advantages of jaws. J. Exp. Biol. 210: 3897–3909.

Collin, S.P., Davies, W.L., Hart, N.S. & Hunt, D.M. 2009. The evolution of early vertebrate photoreceptors. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 364 1531: 2925-2940.

Donoghue, P.C.J., Forey, P.L. & Aldridge, R.J. 2000. Conodont affinity and chordate phylogeny. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 75: 191–251.

Fernholm, B. 1981. Thread cells from the slime glands of hagfish (Myxinidae). Acta Zool. 62: 137–145.

Fernholm, B. 1998. Hagfish systematics. P. 578, In Jorgensen, J.M., J.P. Lomholt, R.E. Weber & H. Make. (eds.) The Biology of Hagfish. Chapman & Hall, London.

Fernholm, B. & K. Holmberg. 1975. The eyes in three genera of hagfish (Eptatretus, Paramyxine and Myxine) – a case of degenerative evolution. Vision Res. 15: 253–259.

Forey, P.L. & P. Janvier. 1993. Agnathans and the origin of jaw vertebrates. Nature 361: 129-134.

Forey PL. 1995. Agnathans recent and fossil, and the origin of jawed vertebrates. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 5: 267–303.

Fudge, D.S., Levy, N., Chiu, S. & Gosline, J.M. 2005. Composition, morphology and mechanics of hagfish slime. J. Exp. Biol. 20:, 4613–4625.

Gess RW, Coates MI, Rubidge BS. 2006. A lamprey from the Devonian period of South Africa. Nature 443:981–984.

Glover, C.N., C. Bucking & C.M. Wood. 2011. Adaptations to in situ feeding: novel nutrient acquisition pathways in an ancient vertebrate. Proc. R. Soc. B doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2784

Gomon, M.F. & M. Mincarone. 2008. Myxinidae. In: Gomon, M.F., D.J. Bray & R.H. Kuiter (eds) Fishes of Australia's southern coast. Reed New Holland & Museum Victoria.

Hardisty MW. 1982. Lampreys and hagfishes: analysis of cyclostome relationships. In: Hardisty MW, Potter IC, editors. The biology of lampreys. London: Academic Press. p 165–260.

Hearle, J.W.S. 2008. An alternative model for the structural mechanics of hagfish slime threads. Int. J. Biol. Macromol. 42: 420–428.

Heimberg AM, Cowper-Sallari R, Sémon M, Donoghue PCJ, Peterson KJ (2010) microRNAs reveal the interrelationships of hagfish, lampreys, and gnathostomes and the nature of the ancestral vertebrate. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107: 19379–19383.

Herr, J.E., Winegard, T.M., O'Donnell, M.J., Yancey, P.H. & Fudge, D.S. 2010. Stabilization and swelling of hagfish slime mucin vesicles. J. Exp. Biol. 213: 1092–1099.

Huang, K.F., Mok, H.K. & Huang, P.C. 1994. Hagfishes of Taiwan (II): Taxonomy as inferred from mitochondrial DNA diversity. Zool. Stud. 33: 186–191.

Jansson, H., Wyoni, P.I., Fernholm, B., Bredwad, M., Mierzykowaka, A. & Tegelstrom, H. 1995. Genetic relationships among species of hagfish revealed by protein electrophoresis. J. Fish. Biol. 47: 599–608.

Janvier, P. 2007. Evolutionary biology: born-again hagfishes. Nature 446: 622–623.

Janvier P. 2007. Living primitive fishes and fishes from deep time (pp. 1–5). In: McKenzie DJ, Farrell AP, Brauner CJ, editors. Primitive fishes. San Diego: Elsevier. 

Janvier, P. 2008. Early jawless vertebrates and cyclostome origins. Zool. Sci. 25: 1045–1056.

Janvier, P. 2010. MicroRNAs revive old views about jawless vertebrate divergence and evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107: 19137-19138.

Jorgensen, J.M., J.P. Lomholt, R.E. Weber & H. Malte. (eds) The Biology of Hagfishes. 1998. Chapman and Hall, New York. 578 p.

Knapp, L., M.M. Mincarone, H. Harwell, B. Polidor, J. Sanciangco & K. Carpenter. 2011. Conservation status of the world’s hagfish species and the loss of phylogenetic diversity and ecosystem function. Aquatic Conserv: Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst. 21: 401–411. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aqc.1202/pdf

Kuo, C.H., H. Huang & S.C. Lee. 2003. Phylogeny of hagfish based on the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 28: 448-457.

Kuo, C.H., S.C. Lee & H.K. Mok. 2010. A new species of Hagfish Eptatretus rubicundus (Myxinidae: Myxiniformes) from Taiwan, with reference to its phylogenetic position based on its mitochondrial DNA sequence. Zoological Studies 4(6): 855-864.

Kuraku, S. & S. Kuratani. 2006. Time scale for cyclostomes evolution inferred with a phylogenetic diagnosis of hagfish and lamprey cDNA sequences. Zool. Sci. 23: 1053-1064.

Lim, J., Fudge, D.S., Levy, N. & Gosline, J.M. 2006. Hagfish slime ecomechanics: testing the gill-clogging hypothesis. J. Exp. Biol. 209: 702–710.

McMillan, C.B. & R.L. Wisner. 1984. Three new species of sevengilled hagfishes (Myxinidae, Eptatretus) from the Pacific Ocean. Calif. Acad. Sci. 43: 249-267.

Mincarone, M.M. & B. Fernholm. 2010. Review of the Australian hagfishes with description of two new species of Eptatretus (Myxinidae). Journal of Fish Biology 77: 779–801.

Mok, H.K. & C.B. McMillan. 2004. Bifurcating pattern of the ventral aorta and distribution of the branchial arteries of hagfishes (Myxiniformes), with notes on the taxonomic implications. Zool. Stud. 43: 737-748.

Møller, P.R. & W.J. Jones. 2007. Eptatretus strickrotti n. sp. (Myxinidae): first hagfish captured from a hydrothermal vent. Biol. Bull. 212: 55-66.

Near, T.J. 2009. Conflict and resolution between phylogenies inferred from molecular and phenotypic data sets for hagfish, lampreys, and gnathostomes. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution 312B: 749–761.

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey, 4th Edn, 601 pp.

Ota, K.G., Kuraku, S. & Kuratani, S. 2007. Hagfish embryology with reference to the evolution of the neural crest. Nature 446: 672–675.

Stock, D.W. & G.S. Whitt. 1992. Evidence from 18S ribosomal RNA sequences that lampreys and hagfishes form a natural group. Science 257: 787-789.

Strahan, R. 1963. The behaviour of myxinoids. Acta Zool. 44: 1-30.

Strahan, R. 1975. Eptatretus longipinnis, n.sp., a new hagfish (family Eptatretidae) from South Australia, with a key to the 5 – 7 gilled Eptatretidae. Aust. Zool. 18(3): 137–148, figs. 1–2.

Subramanian, S., Ross, N.W. & MacKinnon, S.L. 2008. Comparison of the biochemical composition of normal epidermal mucus and extruded slime of hagfish (Myxine glutinosa L.). Fish Shellfish Immunol. 25: 625–632.

Takezaki, N., Figueroa, F., Zaleska-Rutczynska, Z. & Klein, J. 2003. Molecular phylogeny of early vertebrates: monophyly of the agnathans as revealed by sequences of 35 genes. Mol. Biol. Evol. 20: 287–292..

Yu, S., Zhang, W., Li, L., Huang, H., Ma, F. & Li, Q. 2008. Phylogenetic analysis of 48 gene families revealing relationships between Hagfishes, Lampreys, and Gnathostomata. Journal of Genetics and Genomics 35: 285–290.

Winegard, T.M. & Fudge, D.S. 2010. Deployment of hagfish slime thread skeins requires the transmission of mixing forces via mucin strands. J. Exp. Biol. 213: 1235–1240.

Zintzen, V., Roberts, C.D., Anderson, M.J., Stewart, A.L., Struthers, C.D. & Harvey, E.S. 2011. Hagfish predatory behaviour and slime defence mechanism. Nature Scientific Reports 1(131) doi:10.1038/srep00131