QUESTIONS for Secrets of Slime

snail slime

Small snail seen hanging from a trail of its slime.

gbohne/ Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Before reading

  1. Why does your nose run when you have a cold or the flu?
  2. Describe the trail a snail can leave behind.

During reading

  1. What does mucus protect us against?
  2. What are mucins?
  3. Why is mucus so gooey and sticky?
  4. Where is mucus produced in the body?
  5. Explain the job of cilia.
  6. How are the viruses and bacteria that get trapped in mucus eventually destroyed?
  7. Describe the effect of cystic fibrosis on the body’s mucus.
  8. Why does John Orrock think the black mustard plant defends itself against snails?
  9. How does the hagfish use slime to defend itself?
  10. Why are scientists interested in hagfish slime?

After reading

  1. Explain how gold nanoparticles can be used to test the runniness of the mucus produced by patients with cystic fibrosis. 
  2. Describe in detail some of the characteristics of mucus. Now explain how those characteristics serve the hagfish in defending itself from predators.


  1. The strong, silk-like fibers in hagfish slime are made in cells just 100 millionths to 125 millionths of a meter long. Write each measure as a decimal as part of: a) meter, b) centimeter and c) millimeter.