The liquid slime of the Tallaganda Velvet Worm carries a water-resistant solid because of dispersed hydrophobic protein regions that prevent the solid from forming until evaporation.

The slime projected by the Tallaganda velvet worm is at first a liquid because the s within the slime are separated and do not coagulate. The main reason for this is that the protein’s genetic codes have dispersed hydrophobic – or water-fearing – segments that prevent them from folding and taking shape in water. In addition, the proteins remain laregely separated from each other because the mixture is 90% water and only 3-5% protein.

However, when the water from the liquid slime evaporates, usually from the energy released from the struggling prey, the slime becomes a rigid solid. With the water removed, the hydrophobic regions no longer interfere with the proteins ability to create a solid structure by binding with other proteins. The hydrophobic regions then insure that the remaining solid is water-resistant.

This strategy was contributed by Rachel Major

Last Updated August 23, 2016