Wild Things: Spider Monkeys, Fire Ants, Hagfish and More…

Dinosaur “thunder thighs” and fast-flying moths

Spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) hangs by tail with mouth open. (Roy Toft / National Geographic Stock)
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Observed

Pacific hagfish
(Brandon Cole)
Name: The Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii), a bottom-dwelling scavenger.
Inside Out: Hagfish, which evolved hundreds of millions of years ago, are known for burrowing into the bodies of dead or dying fish and eating their way out.
Outside In: Hagfish also absorb nutrients through their skin and gills as they wallow. These "novel nutrient acquisition pathways," report Chris Glover of New Zealand's University of Canterbury and co- authors, hadn't been seen in a vertebrate.
Midstream: The authors call the dual-ingestion method a "transitory state" between aquatic invertebrates (many of which absorb food) and vertebrates (which eat it).

Learn more about the Pacific hagfish at the Encyclopedia of Life.

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