Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but plenty of beholders would call the hagfish ugly. It looks more like an eel than a fish, and an alien one at that.

National Geographic calls it an “outlier” in a video (below) of the spineless, scaleless creature writhing on land, after being caught at a beach in Chile. Hagfish split off from the prehistoric ancestor they shared with other fish before the latter group evolved to have backbones, and “hagfish have changed surprisingly little in 300 million years,” NatGeo said.

There is a reason the word “hag” is in the boneless fish’s name, just like there’s a reason it has also been called a “slime eel.” Encyclopedia Britannica explains that the hagfish defend themselves from predators by creating a lot of slime.

The red stuff in the video is not the slime, however — it’s blood. According to National Geographic, that blood is probably from the beached fish “scraping on this alien terrain.”

Read: Hairy Blob That Washed Up Might Be a Decomposed Whale

Indeed, the encyclopedia lists the hagfish’s normal habitat as the cold depths of the ocean bottom, often in a burrow. They must not need to see down there, because their “poorly developed eyes are buried under the skin.” The rest of their face is a snout that contains a nostril and a couple of sensory appendages called barbels; and a mouth with a “round or slitlike openings provided with horny teeth.”

And what does this creature eat with those horny teeth? Encyclopedia Britannica includes dead or disabled fish as part of its diet, and paints a picture of its dining habits that gives more credit to the theory that the hagfish is actually a horror movie alien: It sometimes will set itself onto fish that have been caught in a fisherman’s net, “boring their way into the bodies and eating the fish from the inside.”

In the case of the unfortunate land-bound hagfish in the video, it eventually made its way back into the water, free to live another terrifying day.

 

See also:

An Elephant Tries to Play with a Rhino and It Ends Badly

Evolution in Action: Fish Jump Onto Land Like Our Prehistoric Ancestors