The 27 Best Deep-Sea Species: #1 Vampire Squid

#1 Vampyroteuthis infernalis (Phylum Mollusca, Class Cephalopoda, SubClass Coleoidea, Superorder Octopodiformes, Order Vampyromorphida, Family Vampyroteuthidae)

You’re alone and chill runs through your body not just because of the cold but because of the profound darkness that surrounds you.  In the distance, a faint light attracts you.  You move closer.  Several pulses of faint blue color call to you.  You are close to them now mesmerized by their pattern and glow.  All of sudden something touches your face and pulls you closer to the lights.  You feel blood dripping down your skull.  OMG, IT’S EATING YOUR FACE AND CHOMPING ON YOUR BRAIN! 

What’s not to love about the vampire squid?  Not really squid and not really octopod, it is sort of the bastard child of both.   As the only known surviving member of its order, it is forever shunned to the deep to live the reminder of its life.  It is truly Satan spawn and rightly named Vampyroteuthis infernalis or VAMPIRE SQUID FROM HELL!  The beaks are void of color.  Stark white, possible stained with your blood, is the last thing you will see before it eats your brain. The arms are connected with a billowy cape like the blood sucking fiends of Transylvania.  The head to arm tip photophores are for counter-illumination, essentially a cloaking device in the murky depths.  But the elaborate lighting displays they exhibit suggest these little demons may also use them for mating rituals and hunting sex and violence. 

Thus, this little demonic creature is the fitting end to our countdown of the 27 Best Deep-Sea Species.

Dr. M (1655 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

8 comments on “The 27 Best Deep-Sea Species: #1 Vampire Squid
  1. Yay! I reckoned that Vampie would be number 1. They are amazing animals visually. Thanks for the awesome countdown. The only animal not on the list that deserve mention are the methane clathrate worms. I had the privilege of working on them briefly at SFSU with Alissa Arp.

  2. Thanks everyone! I am glad you enjoyed the series. It was fun putting it together.

    Troy, Hesiocaeca methanocola is an amazing polychaete! My masters advisor discovered the worm (he was also a grad student with Alissa Arp in the Childress lab I believe). I’ll do a post on it one of these days. You are welcome to write a guest post if you like too!

  3. I agree- love the series!! How about the top 100 next :-)

    I would take exception with the description of the “…hellish habitat where most others would perish..” To ol’ vampire & its co-denizens it’s home-sweet-home.

  4. Kevin,

    I met Chuck & Childress a decade ago when I was a master’s student with Alissa. Alissa was on the cruise that found Hesiocaeca and she brought some back to San Fran with her for study. I conduced brief behavioral choice test to determine if the worms detected methane in water. Only got a couple of replicates in before they became unresponsive and died shortly thereafter. Sad.

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