Slime in the Natural World

Slime in the Natural World and Slime as a Toy
Slime as a Toy

If you are around kids, you may be familiar with a toy called slime. The slime toy is a messy, oozy material that is sticky but doesn’t leave residue on your fingers. It’s slippery but has a texture that allows kids to mold it into various shapes. However, slime is more than a toy. We see different forms of slime in the natural world.

The slugs in your garden and most mollusks use slime, and the nasal mucus of a variety of animals is slime. The idea for the toy that kids love to play with originated from observing slime in the natural world. Slugs use mucus slime to lubricate their path and to stick to walls. Mollusks use slime in several ways, including making pearls. Natural slime is a highly designed material that allows animals and humans to function.

The saliva that keeps your mouth wet is one form of slime, but other forms of slime or mucus produced by your body are essential for survival. Slime in the form of mucus lubricates your esophagus so that food can go down your throat. The slime that lines your stomach protects it from acids. Slime in the natural world contains proteins called mucins. Chemists have found that animals produce mucins by adding a designed chain of amino acids to an existing protein, making it much longer.

A study into the chemistry of slime in the natural world has found some potential new uses for this material. For example, Omer Gokcumen, director of the study at the University of Buffalo, says that it may lead to new ways to treat cancer and other illnesses in the mouth and throat.

God is an incredible chemist. We see unique forms of chemistry in our bodies and the biological world around us. Gokcumen’s work focused on saliva, our first defense against pathogens, allowing us to eat various foods. Food chemistry is highly complex, and understanding how the body can handle new forms of food is becoming increasingly important. Around the world, people eat very different things than what we find in the typical American diet. Thanks to God’s design, the chemistry of slime makes it possible to feed every human on the planet.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: National Science Foundation Research Reports for December 2022.