Hagfish look creepy. They can act creepy, too. Having no bones, they tie themselves into sliding figure eight knots that help them tear mouthfuls of flesh from the seafloor carcasses on which they feed. And don’t squeeze one unless you want an armload of instantly-expanding slime. Unique slime glands positioned along the sides of their long, slender bodies eject slime-making proteins that fill the gills of would-be predators. A newly described fossil hagfish shows all these unique features—even the slimy ones—and they confront a core aspect of evolution.
Unfortunately for evolutionary time, hagfish pop into the fossil record looking exactly like today’s hagfish. Vast stretches of sediment contain no hagfish fossils, only to be punctuated by these few that show no basic body changes. Why would the same evolutionary processes that supposedly transformed fish into dinosaurs fail to make a single change to hagfish in all that time? With no changes to explain, there’s no need to invoke eons.
The stability of hagfish body forms found in both fossils and oceans, plus the original tissue and slime remnants that make up this hagfish fossil stand in the way of its old age assignment. Instead, a recent, worldwide watery catastrophe should be considered to help account for these fossils’ rapid burial and fresh looks.