Beneath the towering redwoods lives one of the most peculiar creatures in California: the banana slug. They're coated with a liquid crystal ooze that solves many problems slugs face in the forest -- and maybe some of our own.
Banana slugs are important members of the redwood forest community, even if they aren't the most exalted. They eat animal droppings, leaves and other detritus on the forest floor, and then generate waste that fertilizes new plants. Being slugs, they don't move very quickly, and without a shell, they need other protection to keep themselves from becoming food and then fertilizer. Their main defense: slime. Slime refers to mucus-the same stuff that coats your nose and lungs-found on the outside of an animal's body. Banana slug slime contains nasty chemicals that numb the tongue of any animal that attempts to nibble it, discouraging predators like raccoons, who have to go to the trouble of removing the slime if they want to eat the slug. But this is just one of many ways slugs depend on slime, and they use it for everything from locomotion to nutrition.
Read more in our article on KQED Science:
Funding for Deep Look is provided in part by PBS Digital Studios and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Deep Look is a project of KQED Science, which is supported by HopeLab, The David B. Gold Foundation; S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation; The Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation; The Vadasz Family Foundation; Smart Family Foundation and the members of KQED.