ST. GEORGE— Dixie State University presents the opportunity to learn more about an unusual deep-sea creature when the weekly lecture series “Dixie Forum: A Window on the World” hosts two hagfish experts.
Dr. Douglas S. Fudge and Dr. Theodore A. Uyeno will present “The Fascinating Biology and Biomechanics of the Hagfish” from noon to 12:50 p.m on Tuesday at the Dunford Auditorium in the Browning Resource Center on the Dixie State University campus. Admission is free, and the public is encouraged to attend.
The hagfish — which looks something like an eel — has no backbone or scales. Additionally, when bitten, the hagfish produces a mucous that attaches to the gills of its predator and threatens it with suffocation in just a fraction of a second. These features help hagfish perform an interesting behavior: tying themselves into figure-eight knots. They combine this rare behavior with licking actions of their raspy, tongue-like structures to “bite” into food with surprising force.
Dr. Fudge, who runs the Comparative Biomaterials Lab at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, will speak about the hagfish’s unique defense mechanism, explaining how the slime that suffocates attackers transforms from a thick glandular substance into an ultra-dilute fibrous material in a fraction of a second. Fudge, who earned a doctorate in comparative animal biomechanics from the University of British Columbia, will also discuss several applied projects that have been inspired by the unique defensive adaptations of hagfish.
Dr. Uyeno, who runs a biomechanics research lab at Valdosta State University in Georgia, is one of several researchers attempting to answer the biomechanical questions surrounding the hagfish by integrating multiple fields including physiology, kinematics and algebraic topology with computer graphical simulations. At Tuesday’s presentation, Uyeno, who earned a doctorate in biomechanics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will share preliminary results from this research. In addition to providing a fundamental understanding of feeding mechanics in a rarely studied organism, these results form the basis for a new class of engineering designs in soft robotics.
Dixie Forum is a weekly lecture series designed to introduce the St. George community and Dixie State University students, faculty and staff to diverse ideas and personalities while widening their worldviews via a 50-minute presentation. Next week, Dixie Forum will host Nate Taylor and Pat Johnson as they present on creative writing and illustrating on March 22 in the Dunford Auditorium.
- What: “The Fascinating Biology and Biomechanics of the Hagfish”
- When: Tuesday, March 15, from noon to 12:50 p.m.
- Where: Dunford Auditorium in the Browning Resource Center on the Dixie State University campus
- This event is free and open to the public
- For more information on Dixie State University’s Dixie Forum series, please contact Dixie Forum coordinator John Burns at 435-879-4712 or via email. You can also visit the Dixie Forum webpage or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.