Definition of hagfish in English:


nounPlural hagfishes

  • A primitive jawless marine vertebrate distantly related to the lampreys, with a slimy eel-like body, a mouth surrounded by barbels, and a rasping tongue used for feeding on dead or dying fish.

    Class Myxini and family Myxinidae: several genera, in particular Myxine, and numerous species

    • ‘They are represented now only by the lampreys, eel-like forms that are parasites on fish, and the hagfish, also eel-like but feeding on dead or dying animals.’
    • ‘In addition, there is little known about how the hagfish feed, grow, or sexually mature.’
    • ‘One form is lamprey like, whereas the other is closer to the more primitive hagfish.’
    • ‘These data from our studies suggest a seasonal reproductive cycle in the Atlantic hagfish.’
    • ‘Apparently living at great depths with the hagfish, the prehistoric ratfish was recently discovered off Brazil by scientists.’
    • ‘The hagfish, together with lampreys, are living representatives of the jawless vertebrates (class Agnatha) and are considered to be the most evolutionarily ancient vertebrates.’
    • ‘Traditional methods of population assessment used by the fisheries industry cannot be applied to the hagfish.’
    • ‘This jawless mouth sets the lamprey and its cousin the hagfish apart from all other modern vertebrates - animals with backbones.’
    • ‘The absence of a cerebellum in hagfishes and lampreys appears to be the only exception.’
    • ‘Agnathans generally have the smallest brains for their body size, with hagfishes having brains that are two to three times larger than lampreys of the same body size.’
    • ‘These first vertebrates lacked jaws, like the living hagfish and lampreys.’
    • ‘To date, the question of luteal-like structures in lampreys and hagfish is unresolved.’
    • ‘Whatever their phylogenetic position, the hagfish are still considered the most primitive vertebrate known, living or extinct.’
    • ‘Hermaphrodites were rarely observed in a study on the Japanese hagfish.’
    • ‘Hagfish live in burrows on the seafloor and locate their food by smelling and feeling as they swim.’
    • ‘It used to be thought that hagfish were vertebrates, but in fact these ‘fish’ have no backbone at all.’
    • ‘It has been suggested the demand for hagfish skin has greatly depleted the hagfish populations.’
    • ‘In contrast, the vertebrate insulin gene became a metabolic regulatory action of insulin early during vertebrate evolution since insulin regulates glucose homeostasis even in hagfishes and lampreys.’
    • ‘All early fishes - and two modern survivors of this initial radiation, the lampreys and the hagfishes - lacked jaws.’
    • ‘For a long time, people thought of hagfish as scavengers and parasites, probably due to their habit or burrowing into dead or dying animals and eating them from the inside out. In’


Early 17th century: from hag + fish.