Skip to main content
Select Source:

hagfish

hagfish, primitive, jawless marine fish of the family Myxinidae, of worldwide distribution in cold and temperate waters. Its rudimentary skeleton, of cartilage rather than bone, has a braincase, but no jaw. The circular sucking mouth has rows of horny teeth. There is a single median nostril and the eyes are poorly developed. Like the other jawless fishes, the lampreys, hagfish retain the notochord, a supporting structure found in higher vertebrates only in the embryo, throughout life. They lack a sympathetic nervous system, a spleen, and scales. Hagfish, or hags, spend much time embedded in muddy bottoms. They are chiefly scavengers, but also parasitize slow-moving fishes, eating their way into the victim's body and leaving only the skin and skeleton. Also known as slime eels, hagfish have glands on either side of their bodies that produce enormous quantities of mucoid material, probably as a defense mechanism. The sexes are separate, although an individual may have rudimentary organs of the opposite sex. Spawning occurs throughout the year; no larval stage is known. The Atlantic hagfish, Myxine glutinosa, may reach a length of 30 in. (76 cm). The Pacific hagfish, Eptatretus stouti, has been extensively used in physiological studies. The hagfish is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Myxini, order Myxiniformes, family Myxinidae.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"hagfish." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"hagfish." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hagfish

"hagfish." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved February 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hagfish

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

hagfish

hag·fish / ˈhagˌfish/ • n. (pl. same or -fishes) a primitive jawless marine vertebrate (Myxine and other genera, family Myxinidae) distantly related to the lampreys, with a slimy eellike body, a slitlike mouth surrounded by barbels, and a rasping tongue used for feeding on dead or dying fish.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"hagfish." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"hagfish." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hagfish

"hagfish." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved February 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hagfish

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

hagfish

hagfish See MYXINIDAE.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"hagfish." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"hagfish." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hagfish

"hagfish." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved February 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hagfish

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.