Unbelievable: a primitive animal eats through the skin


04/03/2011

Hagfish (Myxini) - a simple, tube-like scavengers differ terrible eating habits: when ugly predator encounters with dead or dying carcass of the animal at the bottom of the sea, he begins to delve into the cavities of the body. So, eating prey, it uses not only with his mouth, but also their skin and gills.

It really is. New analysis showed that hagfish can absorb nutrients through the skin and gills. And, just penetrating into the carcass, hagfish surrounded by a high concentration of dissolved nutrients.

Some invertebrates, including mollusks and worms, also known that absorb nutrients through their skin or gills. But until now there has been no evidence that vertebrates - animals with bony skeletons like men - are fed in the same way.

Hagfish - are ancient creatures that supposedly closely related to the first vertebrates. And their system absorb nutrients represents a transition between that which is characteristic of aquatic invertebrates such as worms and more advanced digestive system inherent in vertebrates like humans. Researchers have reported this in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Their bodies are very simple, reminiscent of the tube. Hagfish and basically all blind.

"Apart from the ability to allocate a thick, mucus-like gel in copious amounts when disturbed, a striking feature is the presence of hagfish-like devices and antennae located around their mouths, which they use to explore the environment" - said researcher Carol Bucking (Carol Bucking) University of British Columbia. Using tissue samples of skin and gills taken from hagfish caught near Vancouver Island in Canada, the researchers tested the ability of tissue absorption of two amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins.

"We wanted to start with a simple dissolving the organic nutrient, and given the fact that the power supply - more to destroy the protein aggregates, the amino acid was not as suitable for the starting job," - said the chief researcher Chris Glover (Chris Glover) from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand .

Their results indicated that specific molecular mechanisms exist in tissues myxine to move these amino acids in their bodies. For example, researchers have found that increasing the concentration of amino acids contributed to the increased tissue uptake, but only up to a certain measure. If a specific transport mechanism moves the molecule, whereas all the absorption region along the gills and skin tissue can be employed, increasing the absorption of amino acids.

While some organisms exchange nutrients with the water surrounding them, as a method of maintaining the concentration of salt in the liquid body myxine likely use their skin and gills solely as a power source.

This additional ability to absorb nutrients may be an adaptation to being able to help hagfish make the most of a rare food in carcasses that also attract other hungry scavengers.

Although little is known about a simple digestive system hagfish, a new analysis shows that the skin and gills are the only bodies which they feed. "Fast and simple calculation suggests that the skin in particular can absorb the nutrients in amounts equivalent to the digestive tract!" - Glover concluded.

Original: LiveScience Translation: M. Potter


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